We talked to a clinical psychologist about the treatment and other more affordable options.
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Sophie Turner Curly Hair Strapless Gown 2019 Dark Phoenix Premiere
Credit: Getty Images

Over the years, Sophie Turner has been quite candid about her mental health struggles. And this week, in an interview with Elle U.K., we gained more insight into her past battle with an eating disorder while filming Game of Thrones, as well as the somewhat unconventional therapy she received to heal.

"The character that I play on my show is called Sansa, and people used to say, 'Damn, Sansa gained 10 lbs' or 'Damn, Sansa needs to lose 10 lbs' or 'Sansa got fat.' …" Turner explained. "I used to get a lot of comments about my skin and my weight and how I wasn't a good actress. I would just believe it. I would say, 'Yeah, I am spotty. I am fat. I am a bad actress.' I would just believe it. I would get [the costume department] to tighten my corset a lot. I just got very, very self-conscious."

The actress went on to share that at one point, she treated her mental health and eating disorder with a "companion," aka a live-in therapist.

"For a long time, I was quite sick with an eating disorder and I had a companion. I don't know if you know what a companion is? It's a live-in therapist, who would ensure I wasn't doing anything unhealthy with my eating habits," she said. "One night, I was playing over and over in my mind a comment I'd seen on Instagram. I was like, 'I'm so fat, I'm so undesirable,' and spinning out.' She said to me, 'You know, no one actually cares. I know you think this, but nobody else is thinking it. You're not that important.' … That was the best thing anyone could have told me."

Of course, 24/7 care in the form of a 'companion' or live-in therapist is "not a common form of therapy" for most people suffering from an eating disorder, primarily due to the cost, says Allison Chase, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and regional clinical director at Eating Recovery Center. According to Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Treatment Network, a live-in therapist can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 a month.

However, professional help of some sort is "essential given the dangerous medical and emotional consequences that result from eating disorders," Chase says, which are usually treated with a combination of psychological and nutritional counseling.

Chase adds that working with a patient's caregivers or loved ones to teach them how to help in a home setting can also be very effective. "While these caregivers are not trained professionals, they are provided knowledge and skills during family sessions, as well as other educational opportunities," she explains. "Given that a live-in therapist is not often a realistic option for most, we see caregiver support as being a very effective alternative that is realistic and can be consistent for the long run."

That said, Chase says there are some circumstances in which a service like Sophie's — or other more involved treatments like hospitalization or rehab — is imperative to "reduce unhealthy behaviors associated with eating disorders."

In the Elle U.K. story, Turner, who is currently expecting her sound baby, also touched on the importance of having loved ones who support you. She said that her husband Joe Jonas has helped her self-esteem and mental health a great deal.

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas 2022 Met Gala
Credit: Getty Images

"I [sometimes] don't think I love myself at all, but I'm now with someone that makes me realize I do have some redeeming qualities, I suppose," she said. "And when someone tells you they love you every day, it makes you really think about why that is and I think that makes you love yourself a bit more. So yeah, I love myself."

Turner also added that individual therapy sessions remain an important part of her recovery. 'I still have to do it every week. Occasionally, I go on a retreat to check myself, and I still have days when I feel depressed or anxious," she said. "It's manageable now — I have the tools. I know what's good for me and what's not good for me. I know what I have to do to get myself in a good headspace. It's not debilitating — I know how to get myself out of it."

If you're struggling with disordered eating, you can find support and resources from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). If you are in a crisis, you can text "NEDA" to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line for immediate support.