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Dr Phil McGraw
This article is about Phillip McGraw, the talk show host. For the TV show, see Dr. Phil (TV series).
Phillip Calvin "Phil" McGraw, Ph.D. (born September 1, 1950 in Vinita, Oklahoma), best known as Dr. Phil, is the host of the popular American psychology TV show Dr. Phil, who gained celebrity status following appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Born in Vinita, Oklahoma, to Jo and Jerry McGraw, McGraw grew up in the oilfields of North Texas, where his father was an equipment supplier. Midway through his childhood, his family packed up and moved so that his father could pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a psychologist. McGraw attended high school at Shawnee Mission North High School in Mission, Kansas. He was given a football scholarship to attend the University of Tulsa, but was injured and forced to transfer to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. McGraw graduated from the Midwestern State University in 1975 with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in psychology, and then went on to get a Masters in experimental psychology and a Doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of North Texas, swimming at the two schools.
McGraw owned a construction business with his brother-in-law while completing his residency. He did one-on-one sessions in private practice in Wichita Falls, Texas and conducted life skills seminars with his father and Thelma Box, before getting out of private practice and founding Courtroom Sciences, Inc., a trial consulting firm, in 1989 with neighbour Gary Dobbs. As president of CSI, he advised Fortune 500 companies and injured plaintiffs alike in achieving settlements.
In 1995, Oprah Winfrey hired Phil McGraw to prepare her for the Amarillo Texas beef trial. Winfrey was so impressed with McGraw that she credited him for her victory in that case, which ended in 1998. Soon after, she invited him to appear on her show. His appearance proved so successful that he began appearing weekly as a "Relationship and Life Strategy Expert" on Tuesdays starting in April 1998. In 2002, he was given his own syndicated daily TV show, Dr. Phil, produced by Winfrey's Harpo Studios. The format is an advice show, where he tackles a different topic on each show, offering advice for his guests' troubles. McGraw has authored a number of self-help books on topics such as relationships and weight loss.
McGraw is noted for his Texas accent. His celebrity is largely attributed to his behavioral approach to psychology. Many critics regard advice given by him to be at best simplistic and, at worst, invective. In 2005, he signed a five-year extension of his syndication deal with his show's distributors, King World Productions, Inc. The deal will pay McGraw a reported USD$15 million and keep him on the airwaves through the 2013–2014 TV season. McGraw currently lives in Beverly Hills.
McGraw announced the formation of the Dr. Phil Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood obesity, on October 22, 2003. The Foundation also supports charitable organizations that help address the emotional, spiritual and monetary needs of many children and families.
McGraw was married to Debbie Higgins McCall, his high school sweetheart, from 1970 to 1973. He married Robin Jameson, a college sweetheart, in 1976, and they have two sons, Jay (1979) and Jordan (1986). Jay McGraw has partially followed in his father's footsteps, publishing books aimed at teenagers based on Dr. Phil's books and working for his father's production company, Stage 29. Jordan is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California and is pursuing his interests in music.
Criticisms and controversies
The Making of Dr. Phil
The Making of Dr. Phil, a biography by Sophia Dembling, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News, and Lisa Gutierrez, a reporter from the Kansas City Star, probed McGraw's history, with interviews of his childhood friends and former classmates. It reported that McGraw used unethical business practices in a gym business early in his career, that he was abusive to his first wife, and was also abusive to his staff, while noting that he overcame adversity through setting goals and was persistent in achieving success. The book received no help from McGraw or his associates.
Ethical violation in Texas
After being reprimanded by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists for an "inappropriate dual relationship" with a therapy client in 1988, McGraw was required to take ethics classes in order to continue his private practice in Texas. McGraw admits to giving the client a job at his office (which is not allowed) but denied carrying on a sexual relationship with the 19 year old, who says their relationship was sexual.
His technique, which differs considerably from traditional psychology, has been criticized by those inside and outside the profession[attribution needed]. McGraw never liked traditional counseling, and was awkward in one on one situations. McGraw, like Dr. Laura, does not emphasize discovering the cause of emotional distress earlier in life, and instead focuses on behavior modification therapy — that is, changing a behavior without necessarily investing time in discovering the cause of an unwanted behavior. In Psychology Today journalist Pamela Paul writes that McGraw "knows what's best and he's not afraid to tell you. Dr. Phil issues counsel as marching orders." McGraw himself admits that "I'm not the Hush-Puppies, pipe and `Let's talk about your mother' kind of psychologist."
In 2003, McGraw entered the weight-loss business, selling shakes, energy bars, and supplements. These products' labels, which carried the brand name "Shape Up", stated: "These products contain scientifically researched levels of ingredients that can help you change your behavior to take control of your weight." This met with swift criticism from various sources, accusing McGraw (a clinical psychologist, and not a physician) of lacking the expertise to recommend weight-loss products. Facing a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Shape Up's claims, McGraw pulled his supplements off the market in March 2004, and the FTC dropped its probe. In October 2005, several people who used McGraw's products declared an intent to file a class-action lawsuit against him, claiming that although the supplements cost $120 per month they did not stimulate weight loss. McGraw settled the suit in September 2006 for $10.5 million. Most of the settlement ($6 million) will be paid to the plaintiffs in the form of Amway (Quixtar) brand Nutrilite vitamins.