Lifetime audiences will get a double dose of psychologist Dr. Jessica Griffin on Tuesday nights. The network’s new “Real Love” programming block features “Married at First Sight” and “Seven Year Switch,” both of which feature Dr. Jessica and her expert relationship advice.

Dr. Jessica is a relationship expert specializing in trauma and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but she deals with two very different types of relationships on TV. On “Married at First Sight,” she helps pair strangers with their perfect-on-paper match and guides the newlyweds as they build their relationship. On “Seven Year Switch,” she handles couples whose marriages are on the rocks as they switch spouses to see if life would really be better with a different partner.

Ahead of their July premieres, the expert spoke to International Business Times via email about returning to “Married at First Sight,” the challenges the Dallas-based couples face, and what they have in common with the “Seven Year Switch” spouses. 

International Business Times: This is your second season with “Married at First Sight.” What about your experience made you want to return for another season? Is there anything you wanted to do differently this time around?

Dr. Jessica Griffin: I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with “MAFS” Boston and watching love blossom with some of our couples. It was such a unique way to use my professional expertise, and yet I learned so much from my time on the Boston season. Being new to the team, there were times that I deferred to others who had more experience with the matching process in “MAFS.” This time, I have strategically added additional psychological assessment tools as well as other questions asked of participants and have been able to dig in and use my clinical skills regarding how one’s past informs their present relationships. 

MAFS Jessica Griffin Relationship expert and psychologist Dr. Jessica Griffin appears on both “Married at First Sight” and “Seven Year Switch.” Photo: Lifetime

IBT: Many might think of the people of Boston and Dallas as being drastically different, but did you notice anything different about the Dallas applicants compared to Boston ones? 

Dr. Jessica: I live in Massachusetts, so many of my loyalties lie there (go Patriots!); however, the people of Dallas were incredibly refreshing. If I had to make generalizations, the Dallas applicants were truly a reflection of the area: friendly, warm, and outgoing. They also had bigger hair and a lot more makeup! Religion and strong family values really stood out this season, more so than in our Boston area where participants as a whole were less conservative. Having strong family values bodes well for the longevity of marriage and the commitment needed for marriage to work, making me more hopeful for successful outcomes for our Dallas couples.

IBT: What do you think is the biggest challenge for the Season 7 “Married at First Sight” couples?

Dr. Jessica: I think the biggest challenge, similar to a lot of relationships, is for the individuals not to get in their own way. Having insecurities sometimes result in getting the thing you fear the most — e.g., a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you are afraid that your partner is not into you or your love or relationship will not last, you might act in a way that pushes someone against you instead of bringing you closer together.

MAFS Mia and Tristan Tristan Thompson and Mia Bally are one of the “Married at First Sight” couples that will get help from Dr. Jessica Griffin in Season 7. Photo: Lifetime/Nat Chittamai and Kaitlin Hooper

IBT: Do you think there is anything that “Married at First Sight” fans would be surprised to know? What do you wish fans saw more on screen?

Dr. Jessica: I think the fans would be surprised to know how much time we actually spend with the couples. This season, in particular, I spent quite a bit of time in Dallas and countless hours on the phone or FaceTime with individuals on and off camera. Although I need to be clear that, although I am a licensed psychologist, I am not a therapist for any of them —  we do not have a client/therapist relationship. I provide consultation to them within the context of the “MAFS” experience, which often includes exercises and techniques they can use to improve their marriages or individual well-being, while connecting them with providers in their community who can serve as their individual or couples’ therapists (should they choose to see a professional) and who are not affiliated with the television show.

IBT: It was recently announced that Season 6’s Jaclyn Schwartzberg and Ryan Buckley split. How do the experts feel when a couple decides to call it quits? 

Dr. Jessica: When couples are happy, we feel great joy for them. When they struggle, we struggle right along with them. It is up to the couple as to how much work they put in or whether or not they want to stay in their marriages. When a relationship ends, I experience sadness for them and also question myself professionally such as is there more we could have done, was this the right match, and/or how can we learn from this and improve the matching process for the next round of couples? 

I’m a professional, but a human being first. I also know that even for the marriages that did not work out, many of them say they would do it again and learned so much about love and relationships in the process. I wish ALL of our individuals the very best and know that they will find the loves of their lives, it just may be in another way. At the end of the day, I’m an advocate for healthy, happy relationships — they make us all better. If a marriage is unhealthy or toxic and you have done everything you can to try to save it, it is okay to walk away and divorce with dignity. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt.

IBT: Do the “Seven Year Switch” couples face similar challenges to the “Married at First Sight” couples?

Dr. Jessica: Believe it or not, many of the issues are the same. We all want the same thing: to love and be loved. We now have couples who have lost that spark and have to be reminded (or learn for the first time) that some relationship basics should never be taken for granted. This includes: remembering to have fun together, truly accepting your partner, learning to compromise, expecting the other person has good intentions, not jumping to conclusions, and never taking your partner or your love for granted. Marriage takes work, but if you have the skills and tools to use, and you actually use them, it’s really not that hard.

IBT: What do you hope viewers learn from watching both “Married at First Sight” and “Seven Year Switch” back-to-back?

Dr. Jessica: My hope is that viewers will have many takeaways from both shows that they can apply to their own relationships and marriages — simple techniques and communication strategies that can bring you closer to your partner. You can make minor tweaks to your marriage that can result in major positive outcomes — without having to do something drastic such as marrying a stranger or switching partners in an experimental marriage!

“Married at First Sight” Season 7 premieres Tuesday, July 10 at 9 p.m. EDT on Lifetime. “Seven Year Switch” Season 3 premieres Tuesday, July 17 at 10 p.m. EDT.