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“Therapy” for Entertainment = Pseudo-psychology (not to mention unethical)

Dr. Phil is not a psychologist, but he does play one on TV

Dr. Phil performs “therapy” for entertainment purposes only.

Dr. Phil is an ENTERTAINER, not a therapist.

  1. Dr. Phil is a Doctor.  He has a Ph.D. in Psychology.
  2. Dr. Phil is not a psychologist.  He is not licensed as a psychologist.  
  3. Dr. Phil used to be a psychologist.  He used to be licensed.
  4. He cannot practice psychology,  and what he does is not actually the practice of psychology.
  5. Yes,  he can call him self Dr. Phil.

Source: Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.

Read more about “Is Dr. Phil actually a psychologist?by Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D. at this link.

The following clip was published by the Dr. Phil Show on Thursday, July 27, 2017.

Watch the clip and ask yourself if this seems like legitimate therapy to you.

Here is the blurb posted below this clip on YouTube written by the Dr. Phil Show:

Tom and Karen claim their oldest daughter, Madison, drinks, smokes weed, steals, is violent, and a bad influence on her 13-year-old sister, Liz. Madison says she would “do anything” not to be living at home, but when the 15-year-old is informed she’s been enrolled in a residential program for women and teens, she rejects the idea saying, “You’re sending me away…as if sending me away is going to help?” Watch to the very end to find out what Madison does, when Tom says they’re committed to getting her help.

Dr. Phil uses the power of television to tell compelling stories about real people.

The Dr. Phil show provides the most comprehensive forum on mental health issues in the history of television. For over a decade, Dr. McGraw has used the show’s platform to make psychology accessible and understandable to the general public by addressing important personal and social issues. Using his top-rated show as a teaching tool, he takes aim at the critical issues of our time, including the “silent epidemics” of bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence, depression, child abuse, suicide and various forms of severe mental illness.

Category: Entertainment

Notice the YouTube category is ENTERTAINMENT.  Also notice, disclaimers (aka the small print) shown at the end of his show that reiterates that this show is for entertainment purposes only.

This poor family is in crisis and needs legitimate advice from a licensed family therapist, not a “Television Therapist” that participates in dispensing pseudo-psychology as therapy, despite the fact that he should know better with his educational background being in psychology.

There are no scientific studies and no evidence that support the legitimacy of the types of programs that Dr. Phil recommends.

However, I have seen in the credits of the Dr. Phil’s show that these programs advertise, in other words, sponsor the Dr. Phil show. So yes, Dr. Phil gets kickbacks for recommending these programs to desperate families and obviously has no problem doing so without any regards as to whether or not they are harmful or helpful.

I take huge issue with the paragraph that Dr. McGraw has used the show’s platform to make psychology accessible and understandable to the general public by addressing important personal and social issues. Instead, he has made the science of psychology even confusing to the general public by presenting himself as a legitimate therapist, which he is not, and by promoting pseudo psychology which is NOT legitimate, evidence-based psychology.

The show’s writers state that Dr. Phil uses his top-rated show as a teaching tool, he takes aim at the critical issues of our time, including the “silent epidemics” of bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence, depression, child abuse, suicide and various forms of severe mental illness.  I don’t understand how he can allow this to be written about his show when he is well aware of the fact that he is teaching false psychological approaches to therapy, he uses bullying tactics to get these parents to enroll their daughter in this program in which he knows there is a possibility that these programs could possibly cause a client to become more depressed, to eventually partake in drug abuse or be abused by these unregulated, unsupervised businesses claiming to be therapeutic programs. 

Maybe Dr. Phil isn’t aware of the dangers of these programs.

NOPE! This is not the case. Even if this was the case, it seems the responsible thing for him to do would be to have his staff do some research on these programs.

But the fact is that this issue has been brought to his attention. In fact, there was a Dr. Phil show called “Children Sent Away: Trapped and Tortured?” See the clip and read more about it here.   Find one paragraph taken from that page:

Dr. Phil’s guests say the residential treatment centers they encountered as troubled teens did more harm than good. Marianne says she was abused at a therapeutic boarding school — and that her mom, Tami, did nothing to stop it. The two come face to face for the first time in five years. Can they call a truce and work on rebuilding their relationship? And, Nick and Theresa say they felt trapped and tortured at the residential treatment program where their mom, Leslie, sent them. Can these siblings find forgiveness?  

That was from 2013, yet here he is four years later still promoting the “services” of these so-called therapeutic businesses.

The Dr. Phil Show does not allow comments on videos about these programs because they know there will be many of them who disagree with them. Wouldn’t a legitimate, ethical therapist want the general public to become aware of both positive and negative opinions about the programs he suggests?

Lastly, why doesn’t the American Psychological Association (APA) speak out about this television show that is doing so much to delegitimize the real science of psychology?

I would love to hear from someone who is a member of the APA address this.

I would also like to hear all thoughts and comments about this issue, to get both positive and negative opinions in the public eye.


“Therapy” for Entertainment = Pseudo-psychology (not to mention unethical)

What is Pseudopsychology?

pseu·do·sci·ence /ˌso͞odōˈsīəns/

noun – a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

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September, 1982 Straight Talk Newsletter

September 1982 St. Petersburg Florida Straight Newsletter Highlights:

Heroine of the month: Single Straight Parent, Barbara,

An Open Letter from:  A 7 Stepper Parent,

New Fundraiser: A Straight Cookbook for Christmas,

Newspaper Clippings (propaganda): 

  • Drug Program to Open Facility In Washington;
  • Marijuana plants dying after being sprayed with paraquat;
  • President Reagan Declares Battle Against Drugs.

Take a look inside the September 1982 Straight Talk Newsletter Below:

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Debut Book: Dead, Insane, or in Jail. by Zack Bonnie

Dead, Insane, or in Jail: A CEDU MemoirDead, Insane, or in Jail: A CEDU Memoir by Zack Bonnie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are the Means Justified by the End Results?

Find out in a trilogy that begins in Zack Bonnie’s first book: Dead, Insane or in Jail

Mr. Zack Bonnie’s debut book does an excellent job of describing the indescribable experience that occurs when adolescence is interrupted abruptly and severely when a parent chooses to follow the advice of programs (such as Rocky Mountain Academy and SUWS) which are based on junk science, more commonly known as myths and folklore, about how to properly help a teen navigate the storm and strife of adolescence.

As Zack describes in his first book, often a child already struggling to navigate his/her adolescent years, is introduced to even more bizarre rituals and hazing in these programs only complicating the problematic behavior that may have led parents towards seeking outside help in the first place.

I am looking forward to Zack Bonnie’s continuing narrative in his upcoming books.

View all my reviews

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Teen Programs, Helpful? or Harmful?

teen girlAfter a brief hiatus, I am very excited to have the opportunity to re-embark on one of my greatest passions, advocating for evidence-based behavioral health care. I have a special spot in my heart for ensuring adolescents receive proper care, but after more than fifteen years of research I have come to realize that there is a need to publicly support proper care for all ages.

This morning I was saddened to see that the need for this advocacy, especially for the adolescent population, is just as urgent today as it was when I first decided to speak out about the prevalence of adolescent programs based on pseudo-psychological (non-evidence-based) claims in 2000.

Boy Who Died at Lord of the Flies Bootcamp was the headline from that came across my desk this morning, accompanied by a video of an interview between Matt Lauer and the couple who runs the wilderness camp called Tierra Blanca Ranch in New Mexico, where the boy died.

These residential treatment programs and camps have been in existence in one form or another since the early part of the twentieth century. The popularity of these programs for teens grew in the 1970’s after President Nixon declared war on drugs which precipitated the Parent Movement, led by Marsha ‘Keith’ Manatt Schuchard and her husband, Ronald Schuchard, and was followed by the ToughLove Movement created by Phyllis and David York.

While there may be adolescent residential treatment programs out there that are based on sound scientific research, the majority of the programs that I have encountered for young people are based on nothing more than junk science (untested or unproven claims).

Keith Stanovich, Professor Emeritus of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto, in his eye opening psychology book, How to Think Straight About Psychology, states “Many pseudosciences are multi-million dollar industries that depend on the lack of public awareness that claims about human behavior can be tested. The general public is also unaware that any of the claims made by these pseudosciences have been tested and proven false.”

Unfortunately when parents become confused by their adolescent child’s behavior, it is sometimes followed by frustration, or fear for their child’s well-being. This frustration, embarrassment, and desperation often leaves highly intelligent, well-intentioned parents vulnerable to bogus statistics and false claims of programs that want to take their hard-earned money in exchange for fixing their kid.

As a result the parents are often happy when they first get their ‘newly repaired’ teenager back home after an average stay of at least a year away from their families. Parents are often heard saying things like, “I’m so happy, I’ve got my baby back!” or “We’re so glad to have our sweet child again.”

The parents are usually so pleased with the outcome of the program that they don’t realize how much harm has come to the child during the time that s/he was away from home. They don’t understand how much psychological and often physical trauma their child has endured to become this shadow of a child that s/he once was. At least the lucky parents don’t learn about the trauma their child experienced. Unfortunately, there are too many parents just like Bruce Staeger’s parents who get a phone call to pick up their dead child from the program. Sometimes the child has committed suicide, but often the child has died due to severe neglect or physical abuses.

This is not an easy subject, but it is one that must be broached so that not only parents, but care-givers of all kinds, can become better equipped to evaluate psychological health care claims and information. There is an urgent need for the general public to recognize that we all should learn how to navigate through the maze of psychological information available to us. Everyone could benefit from learning how to evaluate the validity of the claims being made, especially when they might seem too good to be true.

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