Cheryl Burke Details ‘Therapy Talks’ With ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Partner AJ McLean: He Has ‘Influenced Me in a Positive Way’

Cheryl Burke has been part of Dancing With the Stars since 2006, but that doesn’t mean she’s still not learning new things about herself — and from her celebrity partners.

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“I always believe that people come into your lives because it’s either a reflection of who you are or who you want to be or who you’re trying not to be,” the professional dancer, 36, told Us Weekly exclusively following the Monday, September 28, episode. “But there’s always this reason. There’s a reason for this energy and energy coming together.”

This season, she sees a lot of herself in partner AJ McLean.

“AJ is just a reflection of who I am at times, which is someone who tries to control the situation,” the two-time champ told Us. “I’m seeing him and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is what I do!'”

Cheryl Burke Details Therapy Talks With Dancing With the Stars Partner AJ McLean
Cheryl Burke and Dancing With the Stars Partner AJ McLean. ABC

The former Dance Moms star then opened up about how the Backstreet Boys singer, 42, has impacted her life outside of the ballroom.

“AJ also has influenced me in a positive way with him being sober and we can talk therapy talk,” she explained. “We go pretty deep to where I almost sometimes feel like the producers, they’re probably like, ‘These people! Therapy 101!’ Really, it’s great because I like to spend time with people who can really talk to on that deep, deep level.”

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McLean agreed, noting that he’s so grateful to have Burke as his partner and that they’ve been able to form a real bond.

“She is literally one of the most, if not the most, real, straight up, no BS person that I’ve met, that I’m still learning more about, and it’s kind of driving me to be the same in that sense. I’m just like, you know what? Take it or leave it, like me or hate me, I don’t care,” the “Back Porch Bottle Service” singer said. “I’ve definitely grown since we started this just in my own [way]. I can relate a lot of what we talk about and what we do into my world of recovery, into my family life, into all of it. It’s a great, positive ripple effect.”

Cheryl Burke Details Therapy Talks With Dancing With the Stars Partner AJ McLean
Cheryl Burke and Dancing With the Stars Partner AJ McLean. ABC

Burke also joined the Tuesday, September 29, episode of the “LadyGang” podcast, revealing she’s been sober for two years.

“That’s why I really wanted AJ, because I’m like, for him to be maybe partnered with someone who is just, like, still fresh in the scene [or] likes to go out, I was a little worried just as a friend in a way,” the Emmy winner said. “But then I’m glad we’re partnered up together.”

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She explained that she made the decision to quit drinking right before marrying Matthew Lawrence in 2019.

“It was just a decision that I made for myself,” Burke said on the podcast. “And it was when Matt and I got engaged and it was during that engagement party that we were just like — or that I was like, he didn’t even know — I was just like, I was done.”

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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