Dr. Phil and Psychology Today as self-help treatments of mental illness: A content analysis of popular psychology programming

Eric Rasmussen, David R. Ewoldsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Many people with a diagnosable mental illness do not receive professional treatment. Instead, they may turn to media mental health professionals for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. This study content analyzed episodes of Dr. Phil and issues of Psychology Today to determine what mental disorders are covered and treatments are recommended, and to determine whether their coverage of mental disorders corresponds to the national prevalence of mental disorders. Both sources provide content about depression more than about any other mental illness. Both also make recommendations for psychotherapy more than they recommend other forms of treatment. The study also found no relation between the proportion of times that mental disorders were discussed and the prevalence of the disorders among American adults. This research helps to lay a foundation for future research addressing the relations among mental disorders, self-treatment, and the media's role in mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-623
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2013


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