He makes no apologies for his direct approach to people's problems.
"That's what it takes. If you're going to get people's attention, you have to give them a wake-up call," he says in his interview on The Early Show.
How does he get his guests to go beyond being defensive?
"I think the idea is when people come to be on the show, you know, we don't just stop cars out on the street and pull somebody out of the chair. They write to us. They come in and want to sit down with me. And I believe that people honestly are looking for some answers."
"And they come because they know they'll get an answer from me. I'm going to tell you the truth as I see it. That doesn't mean you're going to agree with it. But I'm going to tell you the truth as I see it. I may not be right. What's that old saying, not always right but never in doubt," says Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil says he bases his advice on common sense, which he says is fairly uncommon these days. "Ihink we have to really get back to basics," he says, adding that he often encounters people who say they got distracted or busy and neglected doing what they know they ought to do.
"I think people know the truth when they hear it. And I think people in America are sick to death of being told what they want to hear. I think they're sick to death of people blowing smoke at them. When you're talking to somebody about something that really matters - you're talking about their marriage, their family, their health, their future - they want somebody who will tell them the truth. And put a verb in the sentence so they don't have to guess what it is you think they should do when you get through talking to them," he explains.
Dr. Phil says his is not a talk show but a stop-talking, start-doing show. Encouraged by Oprah Winfrey, he went from being her resident expert on human behavior to having his own show on Sept. 16, 2002. Today, his nationally syndicated, daily, one-hour series is a hit.
"I really didn't have any designs to do this at all. But, when I was on "Oprah," we had such a positive response, ultimately. At first I think people were like, 'Oh, my God, what a barbarian,' because it's not typical television, particularly daytime television, where somebody comes on and tells you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. But then I think people began to see it makes a difference," he says.
Wake-up calls is what Dr. Phil says he does in his show; for this reason, he says, his show is very careful about the people it books. "We don't think we're doing eight-minute cures up there," he says. "I won't book anybody who's currently in therapy unless and until their therapist gives us written permission that it fits in with what they're doing. I don't see anybody that's ever had a mental or emotional breakdown or hospitalization or major psychotic drugs."
Dr. Phil has 25 years of experience in psychology and human behavior. He is a No.1 "New York Times" best-selling author and co-founder of Courtroom Sciences, Inc., the world's leading litigation consulting firm.
"I believe in what I'm doing or I wouldn't be doing it," he says.