What happened to “Dr. Phil”?

April 18, 2024
9 mins read

Many shows come and go without trouble or fanfare, but it’s definitely different for talk-shows such as “Dr. Phil”. After being on air for almost two decades, Phil McGraw has surely captured the attention of viewers of all ages with his straightforward approach of topics related to mental and physical health, relationships dynamics, and for giving those living through life’s hardships a platform on which they could be heard.

There are not a lot of things which can bring the reputation of such a long-running show down, or that’s what most people think. However, besides having its fair share of detractors, “Dr. Phil” has faced a lot of controversies along the years.

So whatever happened to “Dr. Phil”? Is it still on air or have scandals finally taken a toll on the show? Keep with us to know all the recent whereabouts of Phil McGraw and his show!

“Dr. Phil” Nowadays

Fortunately for those who love the show, “Dr. Phil”s current popularity and success on TV is as strong as ever.


Since its inception in 2002, “Dr. Phil” has maintained quite a stable spot on television, having gained international syndication on top of being nominated yearly for the Emmys.

When it comes to ratings, “Dr. Phil” has rightfully earned the title of “king of talk shows”, due to its impressive audience numbers. For starters, in mid-2019 “Dr. Phil” reached an important milestone by hitting its 150th consecutive week as the most watched syndicated show in the US with over two million viewers daily. That doesn’t mean the show’s ratings are any less impressive during premiering episodes, as it reportedly reached a new high in the talk-show category during March 2020, an acknowledged turbulent period for TV due to the start of the pandemic.

Knowing all of that, it’s not surprising to find out “Dr. Phil”s place on TV screens is secure, apparently for years to come.


As it happened, in 2018 the show was renewed for three years in addition to its already running renewal, which means that “Dr. Phil” will stay on air until at least 2023, when its 21th season comes around.

What Are “Dr. Phil”s Scandals?

Despite the overall positive image that his acclaimed career on TV has gained him, Phil McGraw and his eponymous show have faced a fair share of negative allegations and rumors, some of which have caused outrage, and in fact a couple of lawsuits have come his way.

Here are some of the most famous and alarming “Dr. Phil” scandals, proven and unproven.

Medical Certifications

A big part of “Dr. Phil”s success is owed to how Phil McGraw is able to advise and sometimes guide his guests and patients through life’s difficulties, by using empirical insights and psychological knowledge. However, the title of ‘Dr’ in front of his name might be quite misleading, to say the least.


Contrary to popular belief, Phil McGraw is not a physician. Instead his title of doctor comes from his Ph.D in clinical psychology he obtained from the University of North Texas in 1979. As well, he worked as an independent therapist for the first decades of his career, but he hasn’t had an active license in psychology since 2006.

While many people don’t think his lack of license to practice psychology is important, not having the proper credits to offer advice as a professional is a concern to the medical community. As the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill stated in 2004, Phil’s methods could warrant him a legal sanction: ‘he seems to offer a definitive diagnosis, including a pharmacological assessment, without careful evaluation or referral’.

Though years have passed, and “Dr. Phil” hasn’t been on the receiving end of any legal action from this institution, the professionalism of his methods is still questioned to this day.


Addictive Substance Allegations

Most people see “Dr. Phil” as an effective platform to help people. That’s why when the show was accused of purposefully handicapping and even ruining patients’ road to recovery, it was disheartening to say the least.

Many TV fans remember Todd Herzog, who won “Survivor: China” in 2007 when only 20 years old. After receiving his million-dollar prize, Todd’s life spiralled down due to his alcoholic tendencies. Following a five-day long hospitalization, the product of a seizure he suffered due to his high alcohol levels, he entered rehab but without successful results.

Todd’s mother Shirley brought her son to “Dr. Phil” for help, but viewers were flabbergasted to see a very intoxicated Todd not being able to even stand alone on set. The dramatic episode ended with Todd beingtaken away after his breath analysis turned positive.


The story didn’t end there though. In a 2017 investigation published by Stats News featuring Todd, he affirmed being sober before his infamous appearance in “Dr. Phil” happened. However, the easily accessible alcohol he affirmed was left in his dressing room in addition to being provided with Xanax by a staff member, made it easy for him to become intoxicated that fateful day.

Of course, “Dr. Phil”s production staff denied everything, and defended their treatment methods, but Todd’s allegations weren’t easily forgotten.

Emotional Distress Allegations

Knowing how hectic the entertainment world is, it isn’t surprising that its workers are often stressed and pressured into fulfilling the industry’s expectations. However, it’s very worrisome when a boss purposefully his or her power to play mind tricks on employees, as allegedly happened in “Dr. Phil”.

It all goes back to April 2015, when the segment producer Leah Rothman was called in on her day off for a job meeting with 300 other show employees.

Allegedly, Phil McGraw locked them all in a room, took their ‘phones, and accused them of filtering secret information to the media.

The scary situation was apparently planned beforehand according to Rothman, who affirmed Phil had cue cards he would read while berating his employees. Nonetheless, the worst part was knowing Phil allegedly already knew who the culprit of the information leak was before the meeting, using the situation to scare other workers.

Reporting “Dr. Phil”s not-very ethical behaviour didn’t go anywhere, so Rothman quit her job and filed a lawsuit for emotional distress and false imprisonment, but the case was resolved through an out-of-court settlement.

Failed Detox Treatment

People with addictions appear very often in “Dr. Phil”, though Kaitlin King-Parrish’s case was evidently more worrying than others, due to the fact she was pregnant when her mother Joelle sought help for her.

After agreeing to go to the show, Joelle was allegedly left alone to deal with Kaitlin, despite the fact that “Dr. Phil”s staff knew a drug withdrawal was possible after their arrival in Los Angeles on the show’s filming day.

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As Joelle affirmed during an investigation by Stat News, the show had been keen about ensuring Kaitlin’s unborn baby’s well-being, but left Kaitlin to wander around Skid Row’s neighborhood for a shot during a dangerous trip filmed by a staff member. Joelle accused “Dr. Phil” of using that video to add drama to the show.

Do They Pay To Guests?

It’s not surprising at all to find out that “Dr. Phil” most likely pays its guest for appearing in it. Nonetheless, due to the sometimes sensitive topics touched in the show, it’s somehow disappointing to think there’s some business in between patients and “Dr. Phil”.

One of the examples of “Dr. Phil” paying its guests with no positive results is that of the actress Josie Goldberg, who made several appearances in it without being properly compensated, even though she’s part of the Screen Actors Guild American Federation. She filed a lawsuit against the show for the $10,000 they allegedly owed her, but ultimately lost the case.

Another example of a paid guest is Dina Lohan, who in 2012 appeared in the show to talk about her daughter’s Lindsay’s arrest. However, the interview turned out disastrously, as Dina looked disoriented and didn’t answer questions properly.


Her ex-husband Michael, who was present at the interview, not only accused Dina of being severely intoxicated but of being paid quite well for being there: ‘(she) did get $50,000 and that’s why they were pis*ed that she didn’t give them the interview they wanted’ he told Radar Online, while also affirming that he hadn’t been paid.

Ted Williams’ Treatment

In 2011 America became fascinated with Ted Williams, a man with a blessed voice for radio, who was unfortunately homeless, on top of being estranged from his family due to his problems with addiction.

While Ted’s rise to fame immediately landed him many job offers in radio stations, Dr. Phil McGraw invited him onto the show and convinced him to enter rehab. Nonetheless, while Ted agreed willingly, he left the treatment only two weeks later due to it feeling ‘fake’: ‘It became somewhat of a scripted circus, and a form of anonymity was lost,’ he told NY Daily News. However, he also affirmed he loved “Dr. Phil”, and wasn’t trying to bash him.

The Laurie Bembenek Case

Some people might remember Laurie Bembenek, a former police officer accused of killing her ex-husband’s wife as the protagonist of the so-called ‘biggest case to hit Milwaukee ever’, due its cold-blooded details but confusing evidence.

Even though she escaped from prison in 1990, but was later detained again, Bembenek was ultimately released soon afterwards, having served half her sentence. Bembenek’s next decade in freedom wasn’t the best though, as she developed post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction to drugs and alcohol. She was invited onto “Dr. Phil” in 2003, in exchange for them paying for a DNA test which would allegedly clear her name and prove her innocence.

However, Bembenek’s appearance in the show never happened, as prior to it she jumped from the second floor of an apartment “Dr. Phil”s staff put her in. She claimed she was intrusively tapped during her stay, and had a panic attack. Her lawyer later claimed her living arrangements were agreed to be on the first floor, but the show’s staff hadn’t complied with it.

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Bembenek’s fall severely injured her foot which had to be amputated, as described by her lawyer: ‘In an attempt to pay for these tests, she lost her foot’.

Bembenek never cleared her name, and died in 2010.

Shelley Duvall’s Portrayal

The name Shelley Duvall might not sound very familiar to people, but her role of the terrified wife in “The Shining” is recognized everywhere. Unfortunately, Shelley’s acting career wasn’t very prolific afterwards, and people lost track of her for decades until 2016, when she was invited onto “Dr. Phil”.

Though McGraw affirmed he was trying to help Shelley, she was evidently not mentally well enough for an interview. Her appearance in “Dr. Phil” was heavily criticized, and accusations of using her case for alleged ‘exploitation’ were soon to come.

The Shady “Dr. Phil’s House”

One of the strangest lawsuits to ever come out of a reality show is definitely the ‘Dr. Phil’s naked man’, as the media baptized the case. As it happened, Shirley Dieu and Crystal Matchett agreed to appear in the spin-off special “Dr. Phil’s House” in 2007, in exchange for receiving counseling on mental health from Dr. Phil McGraw.


However, the situation took a weird but traumatic turn for both women. According to court papers, they were uncomfortable with the way the show ‘locked them’ in a ‘mock house’, with no windows and way out. Furthermore, the week they agreed to spend there came to an abrupt end when they were invited to dine with Dr. McGraw, only to find a male completely naked waiting for them, a sight which totally terrified them.

After insisting to be let out of the house for a while, Dieu and Marchett were released. Four years later, they filed a lawsuit for negligent misrepresentation, emotional distress and physical harm. Though the case was apparently moving forward, an out-of-court settlement brought it to an end.

Britney Spears’ Case

Everyone knows how many difficulties Britney Spears went through during her 2008 breakdown.


Tabloids all around the world reported her unfortunate, state and many were concerned about breaking her privacy.

As it happens, Dr. McGraw was very interested in Britney’s situation too, to the point of convincing her parents to let him into her closed rehab facility to talk to her. Dr. McGraw eventually met with Britney, but his statement of how she ‘still needed treatment’ following that encounter wasn’t well received, as it was considered intrusive and inappropriate by the Spears: ‘The family basically extended an invitation of trust as a resource to support them, not to make a public statement’, as the family’s representative Lou Taylor affirmed.

All in all, there are many former patients of Phil McGraw grateful for his counseling, but the many controversies related to the doctor and his show are not to be ignored. However, are “Dr. Phil”s wrongdoings enough to erase its good actions? That’s for you to decide!

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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