F.M. and L.M., the parents and natural guardians of A.M., a minor, seek certiorari review of an order of the trial court requiring that all therapy sessions between the child and her psychologist be videotaped. For the reasons that follow, we grant the petition and quash the order under review.
Through her parents, A.M. sued Old Cutler Presbyterian Church, Inc., and the parents of Bobby Fijnje, alleging that Fijnje sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her while she was on the Church premises. A.M. has regular therapy sessions
The trial court granted the Church's motion and, by so doing, departed from the essential requirements of the law.
By bringing this suit, A.M. placed her mental state at issue and has waived her rights to confidentiality concerning her mental condition as it relates to the litigation. See Arzola v. Reigosa, 534 So.2d 883 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988); Yoho v. Lindsley, 248 So.2d 187 (Fla. 4th DCA 1971). However, even though the Church is entitled to discovery concerning A.M.'s mental state, we know of no authority that would allow such a wholesale invasion of her relationship with her treating psychologist. There is a vast difference between discovering communications between A.M. and Dr. Fitzhugh that relate to the civil claim and allowing an adverse party to actually witness the child's regular, ongoing therapy sessions which may involve confidential communications that are tangential or not relevant to the pending litigation.
The Church has available a full panoply of discovery devices to investigate A.M.'s allegations of abuse and emotional suffering and the methods used by the therapist when treating the child. It may, for example, seek a psychological evaluation of the child by either an independent examiner or its own expert, depose the treating psychologist, or depose the child herself.
Accordingly, we grant the petition, quash the order under review, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.