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Group

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Member Reviews

My kind of memoir - well written, brutally candid and generously detailed. The author shared vulnerable, personal stories and I look forward to reading more from her.
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I received a reviewer copy of Group by Christie Tate from the publisher Avid Reader Press from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: Christie Tate has gotten her eating disorder under control, and is one of the top performing students at law school. Despite all of her success, she can't stop herself from thinking about death and harming herself. She seeks counsel from Dr. Rosen who tells her that he will make her better if she joins one of his groups and she is 100% honest. She must answer everything and share with the group.  From there things get more outlandish. 

Ugh. This book was hard. I don't have anything positive to say and I really do not recommend this book. It is hard to say that because this is a memoir, but I feel like it is a violation. Growing up with my mother, who is a therapist, maybe I'm not the audience for this memoir. I was taught that mental health is serious and that groups can help, but that confidentiality was key and being ethical to be trusted. I knew that I did not get to know what my mother's patients told her and that would be a violation. 

To see this therapist act so unethically and encourage toxic and perhaps pushing his clients to extremes was appalling to me. This book celebrates someone who really doesn't seem like they should have their license. I think I should have stopped reading this but ultimately kept going, hoping that normal ethics would prevail at some point. But alas that doesn't happen. There is no fallout it seems for this man's practices which seem highly problematic. 

I would not encourage someone to read this book. I think the practices stressed here are problematic and that it is written to shock which is not my favorite style.
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I highly recommend this book.  I know that there was some controversary about Ms. Tate's use of own personal experiences however she received permission.  I thought this book was honest and raw.
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Didn't capture my attention and engagement. I'll hopefully try again in the future. Didn't capture my attention and engagement. I'll hopefully try again in the future.
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I was drawn to this unorthodox story of group therapy after my own positive experiences with a support group.  Christie Tate found herself seeking therapy after joining a 12-step group for binge eating and hearing about a support group from her friend.  What follows are her experiences over 5 years of finding solace, rejection, loss, despair and ultimately finding herself through therapy and her support group.

I loved the open and honest portrayals of her struggles and the unusual ways the group helped heal her.  The motley crew came together in unexpected ways, and she found herself bonding with various iterations of people in unique settings, all of which helped her grow and simultaneously held her back.  I thought she did a great job humanizing the characters and giving a voice to her struggles.

This will be a great book club choice and I think it will be very popular in my library.  I highly recommend it!
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A brave nonfiction work, Christie Tate reveals her life through group therapy with unflinching honesty. I can't comment on the nature of the therapy or ethical violations that may have been made, but I admired the courage it took to write this. I found the group therapy and nature of the relationships interesting and enjoyed reading about Tate's personal and emotional growth. Although I found some parts quite difficult to get through, I appreciated the uncensored nature of this work.
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This memoir recounts the author's experiences in group therapy in riveting detail. While the methodologies are unorthodox and boundaries almost non-existent., I'm glad she was able to find treatment helpful and healing.
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This was an unexpected read. It's a book about therapy but it reads like a funny novel. I'm not one for self help books and I think thats why I enjoyed this - it's not trying too hard or too preachy. It's just sharing her journey. There are funny parts and sad parts and everything in between. Really easy to read and gets you rooting for the author.
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I adored Christie Tate's book, Group. While her story could be aggravating at times, it felt like a true representation of what the therapy journey actually looks like. I find myself rooting for her and for her friends around the circle. I would compare it in content to "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone". Highly recommend.
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Below are a few somewhat brief $.02 opinions about books I've read or listened to recently but don't have time, inclination, or opportunity to review in full. Their appearance in this recurring piece generally has little to nothing to do with merit. Many of these books I enjoyed as much or more than those that got the full court press. I hope you'll consider one or two for your own TBR stack if they strike your fancy whether they struck mine or not.

BOOKS THAT BEAT MY PANDEMIC BRAIN

Group, by Christie Tate

For whatever reason there has been a spate of therapy books in the non-fiction realm lately and I am here for it. Others I've read (and greatly enjoyed) were written from the psychologist/psychiatrist perspective, so this was a fresh take. Told by Christie Tate, it was a story I related to in many ways, as Tate was a top student in her law school yet plagued by sadness and thoughts of her own death. Her wonderful therapist, Dr. Rosen, semi-forces her to join a psychotherapy group, and the result is a fabulous and often hilarious read.
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I want to preface my review by saying that this book is the author’s experience which is valid and I’m glad that she was able to get the help that she needed to in order to live a fulfilling life. However, the experiences within this book feel misrepresentative of the typical process of group therapy and many stories displayed unethical practices. I will also say that I am not a therapist nor am I licensed in any way to facilitate group therapy but I have spent my fair share in therapy. Over the years I’ve been in individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient programs, and outpatient programs and while each of these has been wildly different in terms of treatment if I ever set foot into a setting like that created by Tate’s therapist Dr. Rosen I would have never gone back after the first meeting.

When I first requested this book for review I was looking forward to reading about another person’s experiences with group therapy. I was interested in seeing how it differed from my own time in group therapy and as someone who has struggled with their mental health for most of their life I’m always hoping to find more people who are willing to speak candidly about their mental health. Group started off fine, I wasn’t immediately hooked but I had enough intrigue to continue on. The further I read though the more I wanted to put the book down and never pick it up again. I was appalled by what Tate chose to share and was even more appalled with how Dr. Rosen conducted the groups that Tate attended. The amount of red flags left me worrying about the impact that this book could have on people who are hoping for a miracle for their mental health and end up seeking out unhealthy therapy in order to try and fix themselves. There is nothing wrong with spending a lifetime in therapy, I for one know that it’s important for me to have a therapist but I also rely on medication to help cope with my mental illness and the two combined allow me to function outside of a crisis now. It seemed to me that Tate and her other “lifers” in her groups have developed a codependent relationship with Rosen and the other members. From my own experience, the purpose of most group therapies is to “graduate” for many people this is also the case for individual therapy. Therapy is supposed to help you learn how to function and be fulfilled by yourself and develop coping strategies that allow you to not only foster relationships with other people but also with yourself. 

Group started off in such a way that I thought Tate would be discussing her eating disorder in depth and how she uncovered underlying trauma and then learned how to cope and move on in her life. It took me until I was about 60% of the way through the book when I finally accepted that this was not the case. This entire book was essentially a “woe is me” tale of a privileged woman who just wanted a relationship. It detailed numerous sexual encounters including some with OTHER GROUP MEMBERS and because of Dr. Rosen’s idea of “secrets are toxic” Tate also shared personal details about every single one of her group members and her therapist. It was antithetical to everything I experienced in group therapy. One of the best things about group therapy is the promise that you can speak candidly about your struggles to your peers and in turn they can do the same. I found that it allows you to develop a level of trust and is also a way to share your struggles outside of individual therapy without burdening people you are close to in real life. 

Another thing that made me uncomfortable about the therapy that Tate was provided was the “prescriptions” that Dr. Rosen would give to group members. Many of these were inappropriate such as telling Tate to stay in an unhealthy relationship or telling her boyfriend at the time (also a group member) to perform oral sex on her. Instead of allowing group members to get advice or figure things out on their own, Rosen seemingly manipulated people to do things that may or may not lead to their desired therapy goal. This motivation of his was never explained which really rubbed me the wrong way because so many things that Rosen did were things that therapists should never do. At one point, Tate physically harmed herself during a group session and Rosen simply sat there and let it happen. Afterwards, he put some ointment on her wound and that was the end of that. 

So not only did the overall group therapy experience that Tate had make me uncomfortable but I genuinely couldn’t figure out what the message of this book was supposed to be. Tate had numerous reasons to attend therapy and once again I’m glad that she was able to find the help she needed but she seemed completely naive to the benefits of therapy outside of her own experiences, she didn’t seem to learn anything from her time in group other than this magic resolution of her “happily ever after” relationship. Over the course of her book, Tate mentioned three things: the fact that she was first in her class at law school, her job at a prestigious law firm, and exactly how much she spent each month on therapy. Now mental health doesn’t discriminate and no matter what your life circumstances are you could experience mental health issues. The issue that I took with these three facts were that Tate never acknowledged the privilege that she had that even allowed her to get the health care that she needed. I won’t get into how incredibly expensive the group sessions cost her each month but she was lucky to be able to go at all. She grew up in a two parent household, she was well educated, and there were just so many advantages that she had and I’m disappointed that there was no acknowledgement of that whatsoever. There are far too many people who will never be provided with the mental health care that they so desperately need and I found myself feeling no sympathy over the fact that the chief complaint Tate held over the entire course of this book was that she was unhappily single. 

The way that this book seemed to me going into it misrepresents what group therapy is overall. Tate experienced a highly unusual form of group therapy that was both unhealthy and unethical in many instances. With the title of Group and no photos of Tate to represent that this is simply a memoir I feel as if this book has the chance of leading people to seek out poor choices of therapy because in the end Tate seemingly “fixed” her problems in order to get into a forever relationship. The fact that this also centered so heavily on Tate’s romantic relationships over her mental health further disappointed me and I couldn’t help but get annoyed at how much Tate seemed to lack self awareness which in my opinion is a huge thing that therapy is supposed to help you with. This book was a huge disappointment and I’m glad I read it simply so that I can try to prevent other people from reading it.
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Christie gives an honest look at her experience with group therapy after being such a non believer in it. Through her participation she came to be a huge advocate of it's benefits, however, I found her descriptions of her therapist and the sessions very odd and uncomfortable most of the time. I ended up skimming more than reading due to this, not sure if this book will be helpful to others
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This was difficult to get through and not because of the topic. The delivery of the story felt flat and lifeless. I kept waiting to become invested in the character(s), the story, or both but it didn't happen. I know this was a memoir but it just did not resonate with me.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing this copy to me in exchange for an honest review. 

After loving both this and Good Morning Monster, I have realized that I love books about therapy. The book follows Christie and her journey through group therapy. It is a radical form of therapy, so we learn about both her own issues and those of her group members. While I enjoyed seeing how Christie progressed (and regressed) through her journey, I was at times shocked by the behavior and tactics of her therapist. I'm not alone in thinking that some of his practices were questionable, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. Highly recommend for those interested in this "not quite self help" genre.
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I devoured this book in 24 hours - this book is so fascinating for anyone who's curious about group therapy. There was almost a kind of voyeurism at play here, getting to explore different people's lives and particularly Tate's life-changing experiences in group. I do have some concerns about Dr. Rosen's methods, and several things he did seemed particularly unethical. However, this is a memoir and Tate herself is not a mental health professional, so she can only speak to her specific experience. I'm confused about how I feel about this book: it was compulsively readable, but floundered in certain sections and I felt some emotional whiplash from Tate's story.
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This felt voyeuristic being so close watching the process of group therapy through the author. At times it feels like oversharing but it all does make sense once you’re at the end of the book. The writing is engaging and easy to fall into.
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This book’s raw and honest look at how therapy is a  way to change your life will cause you to laugh, cry, and consider group therapy. Painful experiences, deep work, inspiring..I learned a lot about group therapy. So well written, funny and lighthearted even while exposing her shame.
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This book was raved about all over the place, and I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of it. It's such an eye-opening story, especially reading it as someone who goes to therapy myself. What was hard to read was about the therapist. There were so many things wrong that I think therapist did wrong and had a hard time believing it to be real. I always struggle with giving a rating of a memoir because it's as if I'm rating your life, and I could never do that. It was such an intriguing read which is why I'm giving it such a high rating, but not something I would want to read again.
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“Written with humor and brutal honesty, Group is a bracing, confrontational, and absorbing read.”

Christie Tate’s memoir Group opens with the author driving aimlessly, a bag of groceries by her side and a death wish on her mind. She wants to be dead in a matter-of-fact way, based on the depressing details of her life and the lack of better options.

Tate’s self pity sounds almost cliché for her demographic—overachieving, single, angsty professionals in their twenties. It’s the groceries that intrigue; Tate has a bag of two dozen red apples in the passenger seat.

Convinced by a friend to call a therapist and convinced by that therapist to join his group session, Tate begins a tortured journey to solve her problems. In Tate’s hands, mundane depression crackles alive with the gory details of her particular miseries, including the story behind those apples. Written with humor and brutal honesty, Group is a bracing, confrontational, and absorbing read. 

From the beginning, Tate doubts her therapist, Dr. Rosen. Alarmed that she recognizes him from her eating disorder support group, Rosen reassures her that he has no secrets, and Tate soon learns that she will need to shed her own secrets to follow his path to recovery.

Rosen’s “process,” which often seems too loose and spontaneous to qualify for that label, was to feel everything and share everything. He tells Tate about group therapy, “You don’t need a cure. You need a witness.”

Her witnesses are an eclectic group of six, most of whom had been meeting on the same stained carpet with Rosen for years. They don’t hold back, telling all about their various personal dramas and expecting Tate to do the same.

The group operates by its own unorthodox rules. Most strikingly, they make no promise of confidentiality. They can socialize outside of group, and they know an unusual amount about their therapist’s personal life.

Tate initially balks at these norms, concerned about the ramifications of losing her privacy. But soon, out of a desperate wish to fix herself, she jumps in with both feet.

Tate’s vivid, engaging prose opens the door on group therapy, making it feel like one is right there in a molded plastic chair, watching as Dr. Rosen rocks Tate in his arms after one of her breakdowns. It makes for an addictively voyeuristic, often squirm-inducing read.

Regularly an emotional wreck during sessions, Tate shares everything from childhood trauma to bathroom habits and graphic sex stories. Rosen remains mostly passive. He asks Tate simple questions, lets the group weigh in with opinions, then leaves her to stew in her own misery, uncertainty, and frustration.

His prescriptions are few. Rosen has Tate tackle her unusual eating habits by calling a group member every night to report what she eats. For insomnia, Rosen prescribes a phone call from another groupmate telling her an affirmation each night before bed.

Tate’s biggest goal in therapy is finding a partner. Forward and funny, Tate isn’t shy around men and never hesitates to jump in bed. But she has the whiff of desperation on her, and relationships never stick.

She dates a handful of men after she joins the group, each one seriously flawed. As her relationships fail, Rosen lets Tate thrash and moan, often literally, as she wonders again and again how this therapy is helping her.

“There were disclosures,” Tate writes about the group process. “There was feedback. There was looking, seeing, and being seen. There were no answers. I wanted answers.”

When Tate engages in an intense emotional affair with a married man—from her therapy group—she and her groupmates question Rosen’s methods. While it’s clear by the end of the book that Tate credits Rosen with her recovery, readers may have a different takeaway.

Rosen, an elfin Jewish man who rubs his heart and smiles when Tate lashes him with vitriol, comes across as a likable but exasperating, inscrutable figure. Is he a mad genius or just mad?

Tate periodically calls Dr. Rosen to vent or accuse him of mistreatment. He rarely calls her back. Once, when she leaves a particularly nasty voicemail, Dr. Rosen invites everyone from the group into his office to listen to it. The obliteration of Tate’s privacy is complete.

As Tate forms deep and nurturing relationships with her groupmates, it seems that what she needs more than witnesses is friends—not casual, after-work buddies, but committed, caring people willing to delve into her messy, embarrassing, intractable problems. Tate’s experience in group becomes a map and a model for how to create healthy relationships in life.

Tate’s struggles, which will feel familiar to many people, suggest a failure of social connections in modern life, particularly during a pandemic, when people lack tightknit friend groups to lift them up, call them out on their crazy, and be there when they’re suffering.

Tate has to find this support through Rosen and his groups (she eventually attends multiple groups, but still continues with her first). Does Rosen simply provide her with a social support system? Or is therapy in the traditional sense actually happening in these sessions?

The answer, perhaps, is moot. Tate eventually achieves her therapy goals but keeps right on going to group. She has no plans to stop. She writes, “Our pull-yourself-up-by-boot-strap culture says therapy should get you up and out in thirty sessions or less. Dr. R offers us tenure if we want it. I do.”
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I commend the author's efforts to get her life on track.  And the details about group therapy and how it works was really interesting.
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