Live

Watch CBSN Live

Dr. Phil Takes Cues From 'Big Brother'

Dr. Phil McGraw has helped hundreds of families since "The Dr. Phil Show" began five years ago. The new season starts today and features the "Dr. Phil house."

The family that lives in the house is monitored by McGraw and his staff all day. He said it allows him to be there when the family needs him the most.

"So many people don't have the ability to change on their own," McGraw told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "That's why in season five, I say, 'I'm coming for you.' You say you want to make a change but you don't have the power. I'm coming for you. I am going to bring you that voice, bring you that guidance, be that compass. That's why we are doing the Dr. Phil house, where we are bringing these families that are so in trouble into our own Dr. Phil house where I can be there 24/7 if I need to be, when the meltdown happens, when things get off track."

McGraw said he felt when he visited people in their element they were on their best behavior, and in his studio they would say everything is fine. They cannot fool him any longer.

"It's the most powerful tool I have ever had. I am more excited about season five than the first season," he said. "Say a family lives in Wisconsin, or whatever, and they get in crisis, they get in meltdown. I am not there during that. They can tell me about it afterwards or there can even be cameras in the home, but here, I can be there. This house is wired up. I request dial in 24/7, I can monitor from my office, from my home, even my car on a wireless, and I can pop up in the house on 10-second notice."

One of the topics McGraw is tackling this season is addicted parents, a topic close to his and his wife's heart.

"It's one of the silent epidemics in America," he said. "Robin and I both lived with it growing up. Kids live with that every day. We are taking this to the streets. It's going to be more real, more raw, more relevant to everybody in America — even more than before — and Robin will be involved in that from a woman's perspective."

Robin McGraw said she has been to every taping of her husband's show, and said that watching the episode about addicted parents took her back to her traumatic childhood.

"When you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you really have to choose to move away from that and not bring it into your adult life," she said. "That's what I did."

The families Dr. Phil deals with are truly in crisis. One couple is embroiled in a violent struggle and the wife feels she might have to get an emergency protection order against her husband. The husband admits to grabbing "her ankle and flip(ing) her leg from under her and she landed on the table and it broke."

"Now, these folks were abusive to one another and sometimes in front of the kids," McGraw said. "They have two children that are just great kids. They are watching all of this, so we bring them to the Dr. Phil house and they are not in there 10 minutes before they are in plight and total meltdown, everything is falling apart."

McGraw said he was able to make a U-turn in his car when it became apparent things were out of control, and knocked on the family's door.

"This is what's happening behind closed doors all across America," he said. "We are putting the cameras in, if this is what to do in that situation. So often I had people say I wish you would have been here when our kid came home with drugs in his pocket. I wish you were here when he was drunk. I wish you had been here when she confessed the affair. Well, now I can be and I am."

View CBS News In