Doctor.  Phil has made psychological problems truly negotiable for millions of people

Doctor. Phil has made psychological problems truly negotiable for millions of people

“Do you really want to change?” This question from Dr. Phil has always stayed with psychiatrist Esther van Venema. “He really touched his guests with this question. Because if you’re not really excited, you can’t change.” Van Venema has been a loyal viewer of the show for many years. “His conversational techniques were very useful to me as a psychologist. For example, he was not afraid to restrain people if necessary.”

innovative approach

Sharing your psychological problems on a talk show with the audience: According to show creator and former television critic Bert van der Veer, the concept wasn’t very innovative when the show first aired in 2002. “There were shows like The Jerry Springer Show at the time, of course, he explains. “And there were also programs in the Netherlands in which the audience took part in the show. Big U hour by Koos Postema, for example, or Het Lagerhuis. Katherine Keel’s program called Katherine is the most Dr. Phil-like.”

Doctor. Phil’s approach was innovative. Van der Veer: “People watched Jerry Springer mainly out of gloating, but with Dr. Phil people also found recognition of their psychological problems.” Van Venema agrees. “As a viewer, I saw that you are not the only one suffering from something. He also provided many practical tools: this is how you can deal with this problem.”


The viewers benefited from it, but the question is whether the guests were helped in the program with their participation. Over the years, Phil McGraw has faced harsh criticism on several occasions. Critics thought he used his guests for the ratings. CBS Broadcasting decided shortly thereafter to make €35 million available for aftercare to the guests.

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Van Venema, who appears regularly on TV shows, knows that inviting people with mental problems is a delicate matter. “You might wonder if someone with mental health issues would be able to weigh for themselves whether participation in such a program is a good idea. But I suppose this was properly vetted,” she explains.

The criticism that guests in an episode—and thus a session—will get rid of their psychological problem is not warranted by Van Fenema. “Of course you can’t solve everything in an hour, but a diagnosis can be made. Dr. Phil did it very well.”

The psychiatrist hopes it will be the same program as Dr. An elephant is coming. She herself participated in RTL BN’ers in Therapy in 2018, but would find it more interesting if there was a talk show where anonymous people would talk about their problems. “It is very important that there is talk on television about what is happening between our ears.” Van der Veer believes that Nadia Musaed’s new daily talk show, which will be shown every day in May at 7 pm on NPO1, can become such a program.

2 million viewers

In the Netherlands, Dr. Phil hasn’t aired since 2017, but in America the show still draws two million viewers a day. They can enjoy the show until this spring. friendship. Elephant? In any case, you don’t have to worry about his financial situation, says van der Veer. “He’s filthy rich. He’ll still have some books or CDs to sell.”

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