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Group - How one therapist and a circle of strangers saved my life // by Christie Tate

Sometimes I come across titles or blurbs that leave me thinking "THIS WAS WRITTEN JUST FOR ME." Now, I'm not that delusional that I think that is literally true but I still wonder if someone, something, somewhere had me in mind when this book idea came into existence. For someone that was not even into memoirs until last year, I sure to race through them at full speed now, especially those related to mental health. Group by Christie Tate is no exception.

While I do not personally struggle with an eating disorder, I do have my own issues that have led me to therapy. Never in my life would I have imagined myself in group therapy the way Christie Tate has experienced though. I am an introvert after all. Following this book though, I find myself contemplating the idea more and more. I do enjoy talking through the struggles in my life with a small group of people after all. Who am I and who is this Christie Tate for making me even consider this??

This book is wild and unapologetic and detailed in ways that you would not expect going into it. I found myself literally laughing out loud several times and had to read the passages to my husband who does not usually show that much interest in my books. I also found myself on the bring of tears as she took me back to my own memories and struggles that I am working through with my own therapist. While I am one part skeptical of many of the prescriptions given by Dr. Rosen, part of me also sees the benefits of even the craziest ones, making me wonder how I could adapt some of them for myself.

I truly admire the guts of the author when writing this book. There are many embarrassing things included but her raw honesty made this such a compelling read for me that I know I will be thinking about for a long time to come. It has allowed me to put words to some of my own feelings that I was not able to articulate myself. I also appreciate the chapter she included for ten years later to show that her wedding was not the end of therapy for her but rather a milestone she celebrated with her group. It warms my heart to know that she is still attending group and that her children are growing up knowing that therapy is a helpful tool that can assist you with many different problems in any life stage. She hinted at having several other books in the works and I am looking forward to seeing more from her in the future.

Thank you to the publisher and author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is great! Would definitely recommend. Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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I really enjoyed this book! As someone who is very private, it was so interesting to read the memoir of someone who was so open that she was able to share her most personal experiences with a roomful of people in her group therapy sessions.
I am a big believer in therapy and think that literally everyone can benefit from it. I actually think the world would be a different place if everyone had access to therapy. However, I never really gave a second thought to group therapy until reading this book.
That said, Christie’s therapist certainly sounded like an eclectic guy, and at times I had to wonder where he came up with his “prescriptions” when his patients were suffering or struggling with something. I sometimes thought he went too far or even bordered on being inappropriate, yet I can’t deny that Christie saw positive results from trying the things he suggested.
I think this is a great book for everyone to read. Either it will open your eyes to group therapy (and quite possibly make you desire it in your own life), or you may be able to relate to some of the stories if you’ve been in group therapy yourself.
I found the book to be informative, interesting, entertaining and thought provoking. And as guarded and private as I am, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t kind of wish I had my own “group” by the end of the book.

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I love reading books about therapy. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone was one of my favorite books last year and I recently reviewed Good Morning, Monster which I also thought was riveting. Both of those were written by therapists about their experiences helping patients through various issues. Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Helped Save My Life by Christie Tate is a memoir about her years in group therapy and this new perspective sucked me right in.

Christie is at the top of her law school class but also a lonely, recovering bulimic with suicidal thoughts. She starts group therapy hoping that fixing herself will help her form the healthy relationships with others she desperately craves. Her therapist, Dr. Rosen, is kid of unconventional and Christie's journey is both hysterical and heartbreaking. She goes on bad dates, has REALLY bad sex, makes some great decisions and other terrible ones, has professional triumphs and personal breakthroughs, she throws tantrums and breaks dishes and considers harming herself, all while being supported and held accountable by Dr. Rosen and her fellow group members. Christie is often is hard to like but you can't help but hope she finds what she's looking for.

Tate's writing is sharp, funny and raw - she doesn't shy away from sharing every detail with her group or with us as readers. There were several times I literally laughed out loud like when she compares herself to her friend Marnie, who's in another of Dr. Rosen's groups - "Marnie was clearly doing better than I was. If we were a tampon commercial, I'd be the one scowling about odors and leakage; she'd be doing a jeté in white jeans on her heavy flow day."

Tate's honesty in group led her to find happiness and her honesty in this book is refreshing and gripping. Group is one of the best books I've read all year.

Thanks to NetGalley, Avid Reader Press & the author for an advanced copy to review.

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This is a memoir in which the author, while in law school and while having very dark thoughts, decides to seek help in the form of a group therapy session. Initially, therapy seems to do a lot of good for Tate. She’s forced to start talking about her issues with eating and sex, and the therapist (Dr. Rosen) helps her give voice to issues long left unspoken.

But as we go along, the therapist’s instructions and his role in the author’s life grows, especially as he suggests that she join additional groups and he begins to encourage her (read: commands her) to stay in a toxic relationship or to accept a more high-powered job (that pays more...when his sessions are pricey. Just saying).

I am always pleased when people make choices to take care of themselves. I think therapy is an amazing thing you can do for yourself and I absolutely hate that often people can’t afford to get that kind of help. Christie Tate obviously had a number of things haunting her from her childhood and from previous relationships that she needed to work through and it seems like group therapy helped with that. She’s very honest in this memoir about what the experience was like, and for that I applaud her.

But what I’m having trouble accepting is the ownership these people allowed Dr. Rosen to have over their lives. As stated above, Tate would repeatedly make choices that her therapist had given her as “prescriptions,” such as telling a man who was basically a stranger that she was a “cock tease.” I waited until the end of the book, hoping that the reasoning for such a command would be made clear, but nope. If there was a reason, it’s destined to remain a mystery. More likely, it was a power trip on the part of this therapist.

“No secrets” is a rule that Dr. Rosen has. You must tell this therapist everything or else….what? You’re failing? You’re cheating yourself? He doesn’t say. The whole way through this book, I kept thinking, “it seems like the only thing you’d gain from such a rule is a room full of oversharers.” And boy, oh boy, I had no idea how right that gut impulse was.

Because Christie Tate isn’t just an author of this memoir, she was also in the news just shy of two years ago, for being the mommy blogger who refused her child’s request to take down their personal information. At the time her child requested this, Tate said, “Promising not to write about her anymore would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her.” Or, to rephrase in my words, “I’ve made a second career off of writing about these humans that I’ve birthed and now that they’re old enough to see that I’ve talked about their intimate details for an audience, I’m going to claim this blog is a vital part of my personhood so that I can deny them the right to privacy.”

The oversharing is a huge part of this book. There are so many sexual details. SO MANY SEXUAL DETAILS. I’m a very nosy Scorpio and even I DON’T NEED TO KNOW ALL OF THIS.

This is a really complicated book for me to talk about because yay therapy, but I think this therapist is ethically questionable and I think the author, according to the abovementioned mommy blogger scandal, doesn’t draw boundaries effectively. This one gave me an icky feeling and it’s not one I would recommend.

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Well this just became one of my favorite books of 2020!

When I started Group I was verrrry on the fence about it. The beginning made me feel uncomfortable - the author’s pain and struggles at the start of her group therapy journey were almost too palpable and relatable and made me feel very sad. And I felt uncomfortable with the lack of anonymity in her group and wondered how that could possibly be ethical.

But as she progressed through her journey with her doctor and other patients my discomfort turned to hope. The issues the author has dealt with are things that so many of us face. Reading about how she overcame them made me feel like there was hope for me, too. And it definitely made me want to sign up for some group therapy!

I just had one small qualm with the book - I found it hard to keep track of the names of the ancillary characters, who she knew from which group, which people were friends from outside of therapy, etc.

And then my only real issue, which is not with the book itself but with the author - I didn’t realize until after reading it that she was the woman who wrote the OpEd in the Washington Post a few years ago about her daughter’s request that she stop writing about her and her refusal to do so. Suddenly I had some real concerns about how much she had learned in group therapy and the ethics of her years of over sharing about her family. However, I’m going to try really hard to divorce my thoughts about the book (most of which were really about the power of therapy more than anything else) from my thoughts about the author, and this is a book I’ll be recommending to a lot of people.

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I have mixed feelings about this memoir. On the one hand, I respect he honesty of the author and her hard work to better understand herself. On the other, I'm a little disturbed by the therapy itself and not sure of the ethical implications of this therapist's work. The writing is excellent and engrossing and I'll continue to form my thoughts on this one.

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I read Group basically in one sitting last night. This memoir follows Christie Tate, a perfectionist and over achieving law student that is having suicidal thoughts and decides to see a therapist. She is quickly put into group therapy where the rules are to show up, feel feelings, and disclose everything to the group. We follow her journey from there. This is very well done. I was rooting for Christie along the way, even when questioning her decisions. I also questioned the decisions of the therapist often, but, like Christie, learned to trust him too. I loved it even more than others like this. I actually learned about the work done to heal. A fantastic memoir! This comes out next month and I highly recommend picking it up.

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The group therapy angle of this book had me hooked, especially this being a memoir. Christie made me laugh, cry, and feel. Read this book if you want to feel something.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Avid Reader Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Christie Tate was a successful law school student and recovering bulimic who started attending therapy wanting to have more intimate connections, specifically a romantic relationship, in her life. My struggle at formulating that first sentence encapsulates my primary criticism of the book: it's not very clear what the problem was.

Her writing is so candid, and as she learns in group therapy to share everything because the holding of secrets is the carrying of shame, the reader gets to live inside her head. Sometimes the progress she was making was obvious to me even as it wasn't obvious to her, like when she writes about still being unable to form attachments even as she's experiencing grief from the ending of a not quite right relationship. She seems to mistake not exerting strong boundaries or experiencing disproportionate reciprocation as failing to form an attachment, even if her attachments are at times unhealthy. She describes her strongly emotional moments in great detail, but as we all know, the ordinary moments in life don't make a great story and so these meltdowns can feel a bit unmoored, almost like catastrophizing a bad day. Learning to allow emotions and to express them was one of her primary challenges, so it makes sense that the seemingly typical events of going through several relationships before finding the right one would feel bigger and more of a reflection of herself than others may find it.

That said, Tate is a really gifted writer and it is that writing that absolutely carries this book. I loved the way she could tell a funny story or be achingly vulnerable. I came to love the cast of characters here, particularly her therapist Dr Rosen, who is portrayed as wise and generous and very human. Group is supremely readable, and I think it will get a lot of buzz when it's released this fall.

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This amazing memoir is about how one doctor and a bunch of therapy groups saved the author’s life in getting her to confront her fears, open up to accept friends and love, and make peace with her past failings. I couldn’t put it down..

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This is Christie's account of the many years that she spent in group therapy (and which she still attends) I was intrigued by the process, how different it is from the psychotherapy that I am familiar with as a CBT therapist. I was awed and humbled by how willing Christie is to reveal her most vulnerable self, the parts that are unlikeable and difficult. This takes courage, as in a book you know you are going to be judged by your readers, even if on the surface your group mates do not. I was also impressed how she did not pretend to be "cured" even when she had achieved a lot of her goals. There will always be challenges in life and some of them come from within. Her willingness to be open and acknowledge hard truths about herself show some of the ways that good therapy can be transformative even if group therapy would not be my weapon of choice. A fascinating read.

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Oh wow. Five stars all the way around.

I know that several reviews I’ve read are stuck on the ethics of Dr. Rosen and the way he chooses to practice in his group therapy, but you know what? It didn’t bother me. I see the value in the way he makes everyone uncomfortable and let’s them feel things and get angry and work through it as a team. Having a support system is so important. Having a place to go every week at an exact time to keep the feeling of purpose alive in people who are struggling to feel a purpose is so important. This setting works for some people and doesn’t work for others. Christie made life long friends and has a support system like I’ve never seen before. We could all use that from time to time.

This little therapy memoir made me laugh, made me cry, made me frustrated at times. It also made me wonder if the traditional 1:1 therapy didn’t work for me because I crave a deeper human connection with people rather than just one therapist and me talking about coping skills. Who knows? All I know right now is, this book was such a treat. A glimpse into all of us and our weird emotional struggles and how important it is to be communicative and compassionate towards others.

So, as uncomfortable as some parts were, I think it challenged me to think outside my comfort zone and see a different perspective towards therapy and sharing intimate details of our lives with others we trust in a safe environment. And about the unorthodox prescriptions that helped these people have emotional breakthroughs, I loved them.

10/10 would recommend if you need a good humble laugh about your own mental bullshit and want to feel the messy connection with some hilariously diverse strangers in group therapy.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my advanced reading copy.

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I’m not sure how to rate this book. Is it fair to rate the retelling of the author’s years in group therapy?

As someone with an anxiety disorder, I related most to the following statement and yeah, great idea...if only it were that easy!

“You just make up your mind to be happy. Focus on the positive; don’t put any energy into negative thoughts.”

I received an advanced copy of this book; all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Unconventional therapy and uncomfortable truths make for a unique story. Tate gathers readers into the intimacy of her experience, revealing the shame and secrecy of her struggle with mental health while simultaneously celebrating the kindness and humor of group therapy.

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Strongly written. Emotionally satisfying. Not something I would normally pick up but so glad I did because in a word it was healing!!

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This is an amazing book about one person's journey with an eating disorder and how group therapy (along with a lot of other things) helped her. I loved the rawness and realness of her story. It comes at a time when conversations are starting to open up about mental health and related disorders and I highly encourage anyone dealing with similar issues to check out this book!

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This is a complex review for me!

I got to read this book as an ARC and I was super excited about it since I am first-year therapy graduate student. I think that I was coming at this book from a different angle. The book is from the perspective of a client in therapy, specifically group therapy. Christie is a very successful law student and professional who finds herself in need of help.

My main critique of this book (it is a memoir) was that I really struggled with ethical issues throughout the book. While I think some of the narration is tongue-in-cheek, as a first-year therapy student, I am learning a lot about the importance of ethics and boundaries regarding therapy. Having been in therapy myself for the last 4 years, it is very difficult for me to wrap my head around some of the lines crossed by the therapist and clients.

I am all for authenticity and honest emotions, but many times throughout the book I was confused about how the group therapies (multiple in a given week) were helpful to the clients, especially because they were required to pay so much money for the sessions. I have experienced AA-type meetings, and they are phenomenal for accountability and support - but they are donation based. I cannot fathom asking a client of mine to spend upwards of $900 on group therapy per month.

I landed on 2 stars for this book because I really appreciate the author's honesty and the writing was well done, but as a future therapist, I cannot recommend the book based on the lack of ethics demonstrated in the book by the client's therapist.

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Group was not a book for me. I just could not connect with the information or the author. The information felt too forced for my liking.

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Shelf Awareness MAXIMUM Shelf:

In her memoir, Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life, Christie Tate gets real--and real honest--about her experience in group therapy, and all the things it taught her about herself and her life.

At the age of 27, Tate was on the rise. She had overcome an eating disorder, was working the 12 steps of her program, had a good job and was set to graduate at the top of her law school class. She was also deeply, deeply unhappy, and felt not only temporarily isolated and alone in her life, but as though she was entirely incapable of connecting with other people. "I sensed in my gut that I didn't know how to stay connected, how not to be cast aside." She wanted a meaningful and serious relationship. She wanted answers. She wanted, perhaps more than anything, to know what she wanted.

Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist whom Tate herself calls "wacky" and whose methods seem, to anyone with even a passing familiarity with individual and/or group therapy, more than a little unorthodox. There is no confidentiality required in Rosen's groups, no promise that secrets shared there will stay there. It is in fact quite the opposite; sharing of secrets is not only welcomed, but encouraged. "[Confidentiality] might be standard practice," Dr. Rosen explains to Tate, "but keeping secrets for other people is more toxic than other people knowing your business. Holding on to secrets is a way to hold shame that doesn't belong to you." He assigns equally nontraditional "prescriptions" to patients in his groups; Tate, for example, is told to call a fellow groupmate to discuss what she ate for dinner, and to ask for nightly affirmations. Another groupmate is told to play his guitar in front of the group; a third to rub strawberries on her husband's stomach. "Wacky," it turns out, may be a bit of an understatement when applied to Dr. Rosen, and Tate joins his groups with no small amount of trepidation. "What am I going to get out of this?" she asks herself, not realizing then that this question would become "part mantra, part catch phrase."

There's something lurking beneath the surface of this therapy, which may look unfamiliar but proves appealing in its ability to give both its participants--and, by extension, readers of Group--a space to both think and feel and be in company with others without judgment or fear of rejections. Stories of Tate's own lived experiences--first discovering masturbation as a child, witnessing a drowning as a teen, recollections of unhealthy (and borderline abusive) relationships--combine with reminiscences from her groupmates to give readers an almost voyeuristic look into the deep, internal work that comprises therapy. But that is not to suggest that Group is mere tell-all, laying forth secrets for all the world to read. It is both that and an account of how that telling of all allowed one woman to become fully and completely herself, related with a sense of candor and honesty that is rare in memoirs.

Woven throughout Group is the idea of what it means to both have and be a witness to other people's most hidden depths. What does it mean to stop pretending, stop masking, stop acting like the person expected, and instead merely be one's absolute and truest self? In the early pages of Tate's memoir, neither Tate nor her readers are entirely sure. "I used fake smiles, 'I'm fines,' and gigantic binges like other people used Kleenex," she recalls.

Tate's background as an essayist (her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and many other print and online publications) shapes the rhythm and movement of her memoir; as she moves away from this "fabricated version" of herself, her recollections of her experiences move deftly between personal anecdote and larger reckonings to offer readers not just an exposé but an invitation. She herself learns the value of having witnesses to her every feeling and darkest secrets: not immediate answers, as she had hoped for, but a path to community and human connection. By sharing her story--and, yes, her secrets--in Group, she is inviting us each to remember that we, too, have the tools within ourselves to foster that same human connection, no matter how impossible it may seem at times. Sharp and insightful, told with a warmth and honesty that will make Tate feel as much like a friend as a writer, Group is a memoir that proves a valuable and refreshing addition to the annals of mental health conversations. --Kerry McHugh

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