I know you all heard I visited Britney Spears in the hospital, but I wanted to take the time today to tell you what you don’t know and what you should know about that, because it’s been discussed in the tabloids, on television, with every kind of expert and commentator weighing in, but with very few facts anywhere in site. And most of it’s been critical, by the way. In fact, I read today that I’ve actually been fired and that my wife is so mad at me, our marriage is over – again. So, I guess this is it: no job, no wife.
Seriously though, and I do want to get serious with you for a moment. Gossip isn’t fun, and it’s especially not fun when you’re in the middle of it, the target of it. But, look, here’s the deal for me personally. I’m on TV. By the way, I consider that to be a huge privilege, a privilege to be in your home every day, and with that privilege comes a huge responsibility. This is a platform that I really try hard to be a good steward of. I get up here every day and talk about things that matter to people who care. This is a serious business, and I take it very seriously.
I’ve heard from so many of you, some questioning what really happened, and many that have been upset with what some folks have had to say about me and my involvement in trying to help in this situation. I appreciate your feedback and your support. But let me say that the fact that people from time to time criticize me, question me, question my words, my decisions and my actions is absolutely OK. In fact, it’s a good and healthy thing for me and for this medium, for that matter. Frankly, I wish that they would get the facts a little straighter sometimes, but make no mistake, I am not above question. I am not above criticism, and I’m sure some of it ” not all ” but some of it is actually sincere and in fact valid, because I am in no way perfect. I’m not perfect as I stand here before you today. I won’t be perfect when I stand here tomorrow, either. But I do ” in this situation ” know exactly what happened, and today I’m going to tell you so you get it from the horse’s mouth.
The truth about this situation as I know it: First, it’s been reported that Robin and I have a relationship with Lynne Spears and certain members of the Spears family. That’s absolutely true. Lynne reached out to us in December of ’06, and since then Robin and I have, over the last year, enjoyed a relationship with her and other family members. Lynne and Robin have spent a significant amount of time talking mother to mother. We’ve both participated in this relationship out of love, and compassion and friendship, because we’re fellow parents with a common experience. We both have adult children in a very high profile, bright-light world. I’ve always tried to be a good friend and continue to do so today. From the very beginning, I’ve made it quite clear that what I could do was to be a friend, and if it became possible, if it became necessary to suggest or recommend to them the appropriate and trustworthy healthcare givers, that I would do that. Again, I made it clear that I, of course, would not be directly involved in any treatment should that come to pass, because it’s well known that I don’t practice psychology privately anymore, opting instead to do this, to be here, to raise awareness and educate people about mental health and life strategies, from this platform, from the show, from my books and other appearances. And I think we’ve moved a long way toward opening a dialogue about mental health issues in America on things such as family, and parenting, drug abuse, severe mental illness, and I am really, really proud of that.
Now, we had planned to do a show about Britney’s situation prior to her hospitalization, and Lynne Spears had agreed to participate in the show ” which, by the way, was designed to be, not some sensationalistic ranting, but an intelligent discussion about the challenges that mothers face in trying to guide and influence an adult child once they’re of age, and no longer does a parent have the opportunity to compel or require them to do things that you, as a parent, might think is in their best interest. You can’t ground them. You can’t make them go do something. Lynne had seen and was very complimentary and appreciative about the tone and sensitivity we had shown in a show we did last year about Britney. So it seemed that she was comfortable about what would likely take place. By the way, there was never one word of conversation about Britney participating in any show, and certainly there was never one word of conversation about doing any kind of show or intervention with Britney.
So, when Britney was hospitalized recently, I did, at the request of her parents, visit Britney and some family members in the hospital. They asked me to come by, and I did. I didn’t go there to counsel her. I went there as a friend and ally of this family with the common goal of hoping to start a very gentle and relaxed dialogue with Britney that might prove useful in the future, should she ever become open and motivated to the right kind of treatment from the right healthcare professionals to which I might refer her and her family. I do the same thing when I’m contacted privately by celebrities, friends, friends of friends or relatives. I listen and then suggest or refer them to the right professionals in whom I have confidence ” the people who have the time and the focus to really get involved across time and work with them.
I went to the hospital, by the way, fully aware that when I go somewhere behind the scenes for personal reasons, I have no expectations of going unnoticed. You can’t hide this head. I did everything by the book at Cedars-Sinai, by the way. They cut me no slack. I had to follow every procedure and every protocol. I was seen coming and going by the press, and after I left the hospital, I did give a statement confirming my visit, and I did that in hopes of quelling any further speculation about it. I disclosed not one word, not one syllable about what took place behind closed doors, nor will I ever. Have I been criticized for saying anything at all? Yes, quite severely in fact. Have I wrestled with the decision that I made a statement, even though I don’t feel like it added any information to what was already known? Yes, I have wrestled with that. Was it helpful in this situation? Regrettably, no. It wasn’t, and I have to acknowledge that, and I certainly do. If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t say a word. I wouldn’t make a statement to anybody about anything. My intentions were good, and I wish it had helped or had some positive affect, but clearly it did not. But let me be clear, I certainly do not apologize for trying to help this family or this girl in trouble.
To cover the entire waterfront, people have also asked why I retired my license to have a private practice. I did retire my license ” by the way, totally in good standing ” on my 25th anniversary, because it was a Texas license. And here’s the way that works; that license is only good in Texas, and it’s good for hanging out a shingle, opening up and having a private practice where you provide services to the public for fee. I’ve done that. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m now a California resident, which renders it moot, and furthermore, I haven’t been in private practice for over 15 years. And chapter two of that story, I don’t ever have any plans to ever do so again, so I don’t need a license. I do, however, still have 30 years of experience, a hard-earned Ph.D in clinical psychology ” so you still have to call me Dr. Phil. I am certainly eligible to be licensed in California so far as education, training and experience, but I’ve chosen instead to pursue another course and use of my education.
So, let me just conclude this by saying, bottom line, I’m all about accountability and results. You hear me teach it and preach it, and I have to own my own choices. Frankly, taking my own inventory, I don’t think I helped the situation so far, and that pains me greatly because my intention has always been to be a good friend and supporter of this family. But having said that, again, I do not apologize for trying to be a friend and do something. Because I’m going to bet that you, just like me, have stood by shaking your head and said, ‘Why doesn’t somebody do something for this girl?’ I tried. I regret that it didn’t help, but I am ” as y’all know ” the incurable optimist, and I’m going to continue to hope for a good outcome for this family.