Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life (Avid Reader Press) by Christie Tate is an engaging and entertaining memoir of one woman’s experiences with the healing power of group therapy. The author goes deep as she brings us with her to her sessions and shows how the difficult process of revealing her most personal secrets allowed her to develop more intimate relationships.

Tate, a lawyer with an eating disorder and overwhelming feelings of sadness, is faced with thoughts of suicide and then takes the chance to heal by opening up to her therapist, Dr. Rosen, and some strangers in group therapy. Dr. Rosen assigns to Christie some odd tasks and after considerable resistance, she begins to trust him and complies with his unusual requests. Developing a strong sense of self and her quest for intimacy and connection are challenging goals that require continual personal effort and support from the group.

For Christie, the level of trust required to reveal her innermost secrets to the other members is overwhelming and painful…

How do I let the group in? You share with them every aspect of your life that deals with relationships, friendship, family, sex, dating, romance, all of it.”

Wait, what’s going to happen to me when I start group? You’re going to feel lonelier than you ever have in your life. If you’re serious about getting into intimate relationships, becoming a real person, as you said, you need to feel every feeling you’ve been stifling since you were a kid. The loneliness, the anxiety, the anger, the terror…”

As Christie begins to experience some success in her group therapy she expands participation in additional groups recommended by Dr. Rosen. Developing relationships and becoming increasingly more open, we witness Christie’s personal transformation throughout the book. With candor and humor, she shares the breaking down and rebuilding of her self amongst strangers who become trusted friends and her lifeline.

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Photo Credit: Mary Rafferty Photography

Christie Tate is a Chicago-based writer and essayist. She has been published in The New York Times (Modern Love), The RumpusThe Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, McSweeney’s Internet TendencyEastern Iowa Review and elsewhereKiese Laymon selected her essay, Promised Lands, as the winner of the New Ohio Review’s nonfiction contest, which was published Fall 2019.