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Why Derek Hough and Brooke Burke Tried Couples Therapy While Partnering on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

The road to the mirrorball trophy isn’t easy — just ask Dancing With the Stars season 7 champions Derek Hough and Brooke Burke, who went to couples therapy before they found their stride.

“We weren’t connected. We weren’t gelling. We were having issues,” Brooke, 52, explained on the Monday, October 9, episode of the “Sex, Lies, and Spray Tans With Cheryl Burke” podcast.

“[Derek] was exhausted, he was recording an album at night,” she explained. “I had a 3-month-old baby. I was fried — up all night, training all day. As much as I love dance, I didn’t have any professional training, so my body was depleted. I was also hormonal.” (Burke and ex David Charvet welcomed her fourth child, son Shaya, earlier that year.)

Derek, now 38, was only 23 when he won his first season of the ABC competition show with Brooke in 2008. However, the fitness expert said Derek wasn’t very confident since he had never snagged the trophy before, and they struggled to communicate amid their 14-year age gap.

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“I was a woman and a mother. I felt like he was a young man,” Brooke added. “We weren’t meeting each other in a place that was serving us. So we went to this life coach therapy session. And I was surprised that it never aired because I thought it was super real and super valuable.”

Why Derek Hough and Brooke Burke Went to Couples Therapy During Dancing With the Stars
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Brooke revealed that she still values the advice they received during the session. “What we learned was so valuable and the life coach taught me something during that challenge that I took with me and I apply to my life all the time,” she explained. “The life coach had said, ‘You have to meet each other with honesty.'”

When asking each other, “How are you?” in the morning, the counselor wanted the partners to respond with complete honesty.

“She wanted me to be able to say, ‘I’m exhausted, I don’t have the energy to be here, my baby was crying all night, my family misses me, I’m f—king scared, I don’t know this routine, you’re being mean, I’m not OK!’” Brooke recalled. “There’s something amazing that happens when you meet someone with truth and honesty.”

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“The other thing she said that was really valuable was, ‘You guys are not in this to win it.’ And we weren’t,” the Connecticut native continued. “[Derek] was really scared and insecure. He just thought, ‘Let’s stick around for as long as we can. We’re not gonna win the mirrorball trophy.'”

Though Derek never said that out loud, Brooke claimed she could sense his disinterest. She wasn’t completely committed either after a foot injury left her in pain every day.

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“I knew his young mind. I knew he wasn’t competing to win. I knew it was an opportunity for both of us — I was there to get to know America in a different way,” she said. “I think he was there because it was a great gig as a dancer, it was big for him. I don’t think people sign up for Dancing With the Stars to win the Mirrorball Trophy — it’s not even attainable. You don’t think it’s possible. So the life coach said, ‘You’re both here, and you’re committed to being here. You might as well frickin’ get in it to win it.’ And we were like, ‘Oh.'”

Both got their heads in the game and took home the prize that season. “I left that stint going, ‘I can do anything.’ … I realized what it was like to commit three months of my life and do it and do it well,” Brooke explained. “It changed my whole life.”

For Derek, it was the first of six wins before he stepped in as a judge in 2020. Brooke, meanwhile, cohosted DWTS from season 10 to season 17.

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