Several attempts to address the nature of my experience with Dr. Phil and show producers have been completely disregarded and ignorred.
The disingenous representations and misleading expressions of concern and desire to provide help during a time of extreme personal crisis; with the unnecessary added emotional stress of what The Dr. Phil Show added, to what were already overwhelming circumstances; culminated by the blatant disregard to the issues involving their behavior and the total abandonment of a relationship that they initiated is the reason for this filed complaint.
Though this may be the first complaint against a television programs actions, I feel there may be others like myself with similar experiences.
This is my complaint in the form of a narrative:
To Phil & Back
It was April, 2003, the inaugural year of The Dr. Phil show. I was living a nightmare and needed a no-nonsense, professional to help in dealing with spiraling circumstances. I e-mailed The Dr. Phil Show to ask if they could refer me to a local counselor. On a Thursday, just a day or two after writing, I received a phone call from a producer with The Dr. Phil Show. She asked if I would like to talk with Dr. Phil in person. I married in June, 2002, and separated the following October after a very tumultuous four months.
After agreeing to meet with Dr. Phil, my estranged wife stood up a crew that was sent to interview us. We were supposed to be interviewed on Saturday and fly out the following Monday to meet with Dr. Phil on Tuesday.
Since my estranged wife had refused to participate, I sent an e-mail on Sunday to the producer expressing my concern on how to proceed. The decision was made Monday by the producer to cancel coming to The Dr. Phil Show hours before I was to leave. I understood and agreed with the decision. To that point, The Dr. Phil Show had done nothing wrong as far as I was concerned, but that was about to change.
A few hours later, I received a phone call from the producer while I was in a bookstore, ironically, buying a couple of Dr. Phil's books. I wouldn't realize the depth of that irony until later. She told me that after Dr. Phil was informed about the decision to cancel my trip, he viewed my taped interview; disagreed with the decision; and requested I come to California even though I would be coming alone. She asked if I could make it to the airport in time to catch a later flight. After making numerous phone calls to restore previous arrangements, I flew to the airport to catch a real flight to Los Angeles.
I arrived late that evening (still on Florida time) and was driven to a hotel by a chauffeur who was at the airport to greet me. The next morning I was taken to the studio, and then, through wardrobe - since my attire (tie, included) was, apparently, not nice enough for television. After make-up and being equipped with a microphone, I was placed in the studio audience. I was instructed to stand when Dr. Phil addressed me. He never did. I sat through the show taping watching others dealing with marital problems and divorce. One story touched the sadness I was feeling as I fought a flood of tears welling up in my eyes. Dr. Phil couldn't solve their problems in fifteen minutes, but he did offer assistance beyond the interviews to help deal with the issues at hand. That was my greatest hope some help to deal with what had turned life upside down.
Instead, I was led back to my dressing room to change back into my clothes. One of the producers I had talked with on the phone, stopped by to talk for a minute before I was taken back to the hotel. The conversation was a cross between an exit interview and a debriefing. I felt emotionally exhausted and internally overwhelmed from the events over the past several months combined with the speed of events by which I had found myself sitting in a dressing room at the Dr. Phil Show. Unfortunately, I was no closer to any help than before I wrote the Dr. Phil Show. I only began to become aware of, what I now can write about with 20/20 clarity, when the producer asked me, What was my wife's problem?' Ironic, to be asked a question I was there to ask. The producer told me that the words Dr. Phil spoke at the end of the show were for my benefit. Why fly me across the country to sit in an audience to hear what I could hear on my television when the show aired; or read an article by Dr. Phil in the O (Oprah) magazine nearly verbatim to the words spoken supposedly for me?
I was sitting in the L.A. airport reading Dr. Phil's article in my complimentary copy of O magazine (with my Dr. Phil coffee mug) waiting to catch the red-eye back to Florida when I began to realize the unpleasant ironies of my experience with The Dr. Phil Show: I only asked for a referral to local counselor (which I never got); I was buying a couple of Dr. Phil's books when I was asked a second time to go California; I flew to California to hear words I could have heard watching the show from my home, and was then reading in a previously printed magazine. One thing for sure was that I did not need to be flown to California to feel like my circumstances were insignificant. Insignificant was exactly the way I felt after being asked to come there a second time at no small expense.
I don't doubt that some have been helped by The Dr. Phil Show. I would think that most, if not all, that have appeared on The Dr. Phil Show have been helped in some way or another. I do suggest that they would not have been seen, without some gesture. No segment will ever be aired unless it's flattering to Dr. Phil. It's all about making him look good. It's a TV show. I know that all too well, now especially, after numerous attempts to address my less-than-helpful experience with the same show producers who said to let them know if they could be of help in any way. An early letter from me to Dr. Phil after my visit regarding my disappointing experience, received a non-responsive reply from one the producers with no further response beyond that. As quickly as I registered on their radar screen, I was removed.
I can't help wondering about others who sat next to me with microphones brought from who-knows-where' with who-knows-what' kind of problems - who never spoke with Dr. Phil, either. Were we all extras brought in as part of a cattle call of guests? It's not the guests who meet with Dr. Phil I wonder about as much as those who don't; it's the untold number of persons with untold circumstances that have been through, and continue to pass through the studio doors of The Dr. Phil Show that concerns me most.
Is there any accountability? I wonder if anyone is independently measuring the show's true effectiveness in terms of longevity of success with guests - both on the part of Dr. Phil's involvement/follow-up after the show and guest involvement/follow-through. I wonder is anyone independently monitoring the stress guests go through who go to The Dr. Phil Show thinking their need is reason they're brought there to discover it's not about their need, but the need to make a television show? Practicing therapists have a responsibility to put the well-being of their clients first without ulterior motive. What I experienced with The Dr. Phil Show would be considered unethical in professional counseling. Dr. Phil comes to America each night with a full resume' and over thirty years of experience' in psychology. Should it be acceptable for Dr. Phil to approach the public with credentials while being insulating from responsibility behind a disclaimer of 'for entertainment purposes?'
There is a large audience to witness the treatment of guests on air, at least. Since, perceived reality is reality, according to Dr. Phil, perception is what counts in Hollywood. A segment will never air that would present Dr. Phil in less than a favorable light. For that reason alone, I'm fairly confident most that appear in front of a camera with Dr. Phil get some form of assistance
There's good from the rise of Dr. Phil's popularity, and his show; there's, also, not-so-good. I've experience both. The good, I've experience from the comfort of my living room as I watched with many Dr. Phil share something insightful and encouraging. I've experienced the good' from some of his books. I've also felt the bad' from my personal experience with The Dr. Phil Show. I guess it's not called a show for nothing. I failed to realize, at the time, where I was going to meet Dr. Phil Hollywood. That should have been a red flag, but I was too overwhelmed by circumstances to think that any interest was simply in making a television show. Practicing therapists whose only motive is the health and well-being of their clients do not see guests.
Nothing is perfect; and maybe casualties are an expected reality to producers in the effort to blend psychology with entertaining television, but, they're not an acceptable reality, as far as I'm concerned. More disappointing than the existence of a conflict has been the refusal on the part of the Dr. Phil Show to acknowledge it's existence - at least, in my case since I've experienced the price of that conflict.
Guess, That's s****. />
I have documentation such as, phone records, correspondence (e-mails with read receipts, US mail correspondence with certified mail receipt, plane tickets,etc.) to verify my contact with The Dr. Phil Show and the events surrounding my complaint.