Did Dr. Phil scam his way to the top? Here’s how he made his net worth
Let’s get real, here. Dr. Phil made his net worth as an entertainer. Dubbed “America’s therapist”, Phil McGraw’s TV show is viewed by millions of people every day who watch The Dr. Phil Show, where guests come on the show with a range of mental health issues. Dr. Phil claims he connects his guests to the therapeutic services they need while openly discussing their problems to promote mental health.
Except, his critics decry his methods, alleging he trots out his guests like he’s putting them on the pillory on national TV, making fun of them for their issues and humiliating them in front of a millions-strong audience. And as we’ve covered before, they may have a point. Dr. Phil could very well be making his net worth on the backs of vulnerable people who need real, more private & confidential help.
Bringing us to our favorite question: did Dr. Phil make his net worth honestly? Now, we’re not accusing McGraw of doing shady dealings on the side, but rather, does Dr. Phil actually make his net worth by helping people, or is he doing more harm than good? Let’s dive in.
Not a doctor
Dr. Phil is a doctor in the sense he has a doctoral degree. He studied psychology at the University of North Texas and did a postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psych. He touted his forensic psych experience when discussing the Chris Watts murders, explaining to his audience what distancing was. However, he no longer has the credentials to practice, letting his license expire in the mid-2000s.
While it would seem he let his license expire because his net worth was growing from his show rather than practicing therapy, some sources question whether something else was going on. The Miscellany News reported Dr. Phil allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with Sara Jane Morrison, a nineteen-year-old client who Miscellany claimed was kept “totally dependent” on him in the 1980s.
They cited a 2003 article from Salon as their source, which was around the time Dr. Phil let his license expire. However, Dr. Phil hit back, claiming these allegations were false or distorted. McGraw sued sources printing these allegations, including The National Enquirer, The Star, and Radar, for defamation. The Texas Board, who allegedly disciplined Dr. Phil for his misconduct, came forward in Law & Crime to clear the air.
Disciplinary hearing hearsay
The Board clarified Dr. Phil was disciplined, but not for sexual misconduct. Rather, he was disciplined for hiring one of his former patients as an intern. “[L]icensee and complainant had an ongoing therapeutic relationship followed closely by a business relationship in the form of part-time temporary employment”, the disciplinary file read.
American Media, the parent company of those publications involved in the lawsuit, claimed they based their reporting on an “on-the-record interview with Ms. Morrison based on her complaint filed with the Board.”
However, Dr. Phil’s legal team noted American Media repeatedly distorted facts about McGraw in their headlines, including a lawsuit Dr. Phil wasn’t involved in. McGraw’s attorney, Lin Wood, stated: “In my view, American Media’s PR strategy to repeat and renew its false and misleading attacks on Dr. McGraw will backfire on it in the litigation.”
“We do not labor under the false impression that we are doing an eight-minute cure”, Dr. Phil once told the American Psychological Association. So if he’s not curing people on his show, what’s he doing? While this site claimed “the show has provided over $35 million in aftercare services for its guests”, what’s the price of getting this care?
Well, according to some dissatisfied guests, exploitation. Shelley Duvall, the actress from The Shining and Popeye, humiliation. Duvall appeared on the Dr. Phil Show to address mental health issues she had since her days as an actress. “I found out the kind of person he is the hard way,” Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter. “My mother didn’t like him, either. A lot of people, like Dan, said, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, Shelley.’”
Less famous guests also alleged mistreatment. Kayden Mahaffa filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil for allegedly exploiting her on the show, claiming Dr. Phil was a “powerful Hollywood celebrity who uses his fame and credibility as a mental health professional to gain the trust of mentally-ill psychiatric patients, only to turn around and publicly humiliate them for the sake of good television ratings and advertising dollars.”
Speaking of advertising dollars, as a popular daytime talk show, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to know Dr. Phil makes a lot of his revenue, translating into his net worth, from sponsorships & partnerships. Back in the spotlight is his longtime partnership with Turn-Around Ranch, now called Turn-About Ranch.
The ranch frequently appeared on the show as the place troubled teens were sent after appearing on The Dr. Phil Show. Now, the ranch is being accused of sexual & emotional abuse in a lawsuit by Hannah Archuleta. Bhad Bhabie, the “cash me ousside” rapper who was sent there after appearing on the show, further alleged she was starved & sleep-deprived for three days upon her arrival.
Places like Turn-About Ranch are controversial, given the reported lack of regulations in the troubled teen industry Turn-About is part of. The National Youth Rights Association cited a University of Michigan study claiming these ranches’ “tough love” approach actually “have been calculated to increase recidivism by as much as 8%” whereas just sending the teens to counseling decreased it by approximately thirteen percent.
Per Wealthy Gorilla, Dr. Phil’s net worth currently sits at a whopping $460 million. Do you think he earned his wealth by helping his guests, or by exploiting them? Let us know in the comments!