Why Dr. Phil's Episode With Britney Spears Never Aired

Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the Emmy-nominated series "Dr. Phil," is one of America's most-watched mental health professionals (albeit one whose license officially expired in 2006). Since the debut of "The Dr. Phil Show" in 2002, his name has continuously made headlines. But in January 2008, McGraw briskly caught himself twisted in the media's obsession with "princess of pop" Britney Spears' public mental health decline nearly two years after the singer lost primary custody rights of her sons, Sean and Jayden, following her divorce from Kevin Federline in 2006, per Reuters

In January 2008, police were called to the singer's Los Angeles home following a reported disturbance that occurred while Spears was handing off her two children to representatives employed by Federline, per the custody arrangement between the two co-parents. After the incident, Spears was hospitalized for nearly two days under mental evaluation, during which McGraw reportedly visited the singer. And his decision sparked widespread backlash, so much so that he had to release a statement addressing the situation

Inside Dr. Phil's hospital visit with Britney Spears

As Dr. Phil McGraw claimed in his 2008 statement, he had "planned to do a show about Britney's situation prior to her hospitalization," which addressed speculation he saw the hospital visit as fodder for ratings. He also said he visited the pop star as "a friend and ally of the family," not as a psychologist, even going as far to say Lynne Spears had supposedly planned to appear on the aforementioned episode. He said the show would have been an "intelligent discussion about the challenges that mothers face in trying to guide and influence an adult child once they're of age." However, that episode never came to be, and McGraw instead found himself playing defense.

Repeatedly, McGraw — who stressed he and his wife, Robin McGraw, had enjoyed a relationship with Lynne since 2006 — went to see Britney on the pretense of "hoping to start a very gentle and relaxed dialogue" with the star, hoping it "might prove useful in the future, should she ever become open and motivated to the right kind of treatment from the right healthcare professionals." As McGraw had retired his psychologist license, all he could do was refer Britney to his network of professionals, which he said he was happy to do.

Although McGraw had no regrets about the visit, he did have second thoughts about releasing a statement confirming his personal chat with Britney. "If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't say a word," he admitted. "I wouldn't make a statement to anybody about anything."

Dr. Phil and wife Robin spoke out on the Spears family before

Prior the hospital visit controversy, Dr. Phil McGraw had sung Lynne Spears as a parent."An asset that Britney and Jamie Lynn both have is a great and dedicated mother," he gushed to People. However, he did note Lynne was in a "troubled" place over Britney, despite having her "feet squarely and solidly on the ground."

Robin McGraw also chimed in about the family's struggles, noting,"I talked to Lynne... and she said they're turning to prayer, [and] asked that I pray for them. That's how they're going to get through it." It's possible the McGraws relationship with Lynne is why the planned episode on Britney never happened — perhaps everyone decided it would be best just to move on.

Since the 2008, McGraw hasn't spoken out about family, except for when he addressed the #FreeBritney movement in a chat with Andy Cohen for "Radio Andy." He declared, "You don't hold people in America against their will," adding that situations like Britney's "doesn't happen."