When Should I Commit My Kids: Brenna, Ailish, Kieran, Dr. Lawlis

The Girls' Perspective

In a home video, Ailish interviews Brenna:

Ailish: How do you think mental illness changes you and how life is for you?

Brenna: I think it changes me in the way I act, the way I think, the way I … everything. It changes my life because first, I had to move away for three years, second, I had to come back. It was really hard.

Ailish: How does it feel to be home again?

Brenna: Surreal. I don't feel like it's really happening. It's just so weird. I also feel at the same time that I've been home forever. But I don't know.

Ailish: Are you afraid that you will go back to residential?

Brenna: Yes. Definitely.

In another home video, their mom, Jennifer, interviews their little sister, Kieran:

Jennifer: What does it feel like to have two sisters who are mentally ill?

Kieran: It can feel bad because you know you don't really know what it would be like to just have normal siblings.

[AD]Jennifer: How does it make you feel when they get angry or upset, and they have a meltdown?

Kieran: Well, when one of them has a meltdown, it pulls the other one into having a meltdown, and that puts them into a fight, and then I just feel alone, kind of.

Jennifer: Are you scared?

Kieran: Yeah.

Jennifer: What are you scared of?

Kieran: My sisters. That they are going to hurt me.

Dr. Phil makes it clear that he hasn't diagnosed Jennifer and Brad's girls, but reiterates his concern about them being labeled as mentally ill. He tells Jennifer and Brad, "We know they're extremely intelligent, but yet they don't process at that level, they don't learn and retain at that level, which tells me, as someone who is focused so much on brain functioning and emotion, that there's something going on there that maybe could be dealt with."


Dr. Phil joins Dr. Lawlis and the girls in the greenroom. Dr. Lawlis explains that the girls used a device called the EmWave, which helps them learn how to calm themselves. "They all did great. They all got into the green, which means they got their brain relaxed, they got the heart relaxed, and so, I'm really proud of them," he says.

"I've been talking with your parents and they love you girls just amazingly," Dr. Phil says. "Is that something you feel every day, with your parents and in your home? Do you feel comfortable where you are?"

[AD]"With my parents, yes," Brenna says. "Not always with my sisters."

"Do you think it would help if you three got along better?"

"Yeah," Brenna says.

Ailish says there would be less stress if they could get along.

"I just think that all three of you girls are just completely delightful," Dr. Phil tells them. "You're smart and alert, and you've got so much going for you that I just hope things really go well for you. I just wanted to tell you that."

"Thank you," they all reply.

Back onstage, Dr. Lawlis says the girls were able to immediately do some self-soothing. "That was very remarkable because many people take maybe an hour or two to learn how to use these particular devices I was showing them to relax themselves, and they did it in five or 10 minutes," he says.

[AD]Dr. Phil tells Brad and Jennifer that Dr. Lawlis is happy to discuss with them further about what could be affecting their daughters' behavior, such as toxicity in the brain, and what cognitive evaluations can be done to create a treatment program for the girls.

"That would be wonderful," Jennifer says.