Trisha Stratford, former MAFS relationship expert, dies aged 72

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Dr Trisha Stratford, a former relationship expert on the reality program Married at First Sight, has died aged 72.

Relationship expert John Aiken, who featured alongside Stratford in MAFS, announced the news on Monday via social media.

“I’m heartbroken and devastated that my friend and dear colleague Trisha has passed away,” he wrote on Instagram. We shared an amazing seven seasons of MAFS together. She loved everything New Zealand, relationships, the All Blacks, the Black Caps, French wine and traveling the world. I’ll miss you, Tish. Thank you for all the memories.” He did not reveal the circumstances of her death.

Dr Trisha Stratford was a clinical neuropsychotherapist who featured on Married at First Sight for seven seasons.

Stratford, a clinical neuropsychologist who specialised in the neuroscience of relationships, featured in the Australian version of the hit marriage show – which is known for its dramatic dinner parties and scandalous affairs – for seven seasons before announcing her departure in 2020.

“I have decided to step back from the television series to focus on my writing, research and neuropsychotherapy,” she said in a statement at the time.

However, she told Women’s Day NZ in 2021 that part of the reason she left was because producers would not heed her advice regarding the psychological state of some of the participants before they began filming.

Married at First Sight’s former expert line-up included Mel Schilling (left), John Aiken (centre) and Trisha Stratford (right).Credit: Nine

“By the end, I couldn’t compromise my professional and personal standards because there were participants on the show who I felt shouldn’t have been there,” she told the magazine. “Then it got supersized … The participants we got in seasons six and seven were so outrageous and outside the norm that it wasn’t what I signed up for.”

However, MAFS′ production company Endemol Shine Australia told Yahoo News that the relationship experts were primarily present for on-air commentary. “The show’s experts, although highly qualified, only have an on-air role,” a spokesperson said.

Following Stratford’s departure from the show, she was replaced by clinical sexologist Alessandra Rampolla, who now offers expert advice alongside Aiken and Mel Schilling.

Stratford was born in Wellington, New Zealand, but lived and worked in Sydney before relocating to Auckland in 2020. She had one daughter, Gina, and lived with her partner, Roger, who had three sons of his own.

Though largely known for her clinical work in developmental psychology, neuroscience and executive coaching, Stratford also had close ties to the media and social justice. Before MAFS, she worked for 60 Minutes in both New Zealand and Australia and was a war correspondent in Somalia and Bosnia. She also produced and directed over 20 prime-time television documentaries about social justice issues, and published two books, including Blood Money: The incredible true story of David Morris and the tragedy of Somalia.

Stratford joined Nine’s Married at First Sight when it launched in 2015, quickly becoming known for asking participants if they had been “intimate” yet and for her “pheromones test”. The show, which follows a selection of people who have agreed to arranged marriages, has so far run for 10 seasons.

Married at First Sight airs on Nine, the owner of this masthead.

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