Scottish Families Book Group Review – ‘Group’ by Christie Tate

By Lena McMillan, Family Support Development Officer

June’s book choice for our group was ‘Group’ by Christie Tate. 

‘Group’ is a searingly honest memoir of the author’s experiences of being part of a psychotherapy group in America and led to one of the most fruitful discussions we have had as a group. 

Successful in her studies, having just achieved top student status in her law class, and with her eating disorder under control, Tate seems to the outside world to be doing well. However, internally, she is struggling and reaches out to the group for support, with her relationships. As she shows more of her vulnerabilities to the group, change starts to happen for her. 

Our group gave ‘Group’ a rating of 6.05 out of 10. Some readers found it an easy, lighter read with humour in it while others felt it lacked depth and was a bit cryptic in places. 

We talked about what our readers saw as the positives and the negatives of this book: the positives included the support she got from the group; her commitment to the therapy that was, at times, incredibly challenging for her and the very real descriptions of loneliness and isolation, with one reader in particular sharing that this was something they could identify with. 

The negatives discussed included the role and style of the therapist, with several people saying they expected more from a professional and felt his practice was unethical in places.  Many felt his methods were questionable, almost verging on cult-like status, while one member of the group felt that for therapy to make a difference, it needs to be ‘provocative.’

 This led to a discussion of differing attitudes towards therapy in America and the UK. The group considered the author’s role in the group, questioning whether she was able to give support to others, as well as receive it.  

The ending of the book gave way to a great discussion too, with Tate’s ongoing participation in the group seen as a lifeline by some, who likened it to people in recovery attending fellowship meetings regularly and suggested the attachments she had made in the group allowed her to grow and open up more. Others, however, saw her continuing participation as evidence of her ‘stuckness’ with some questioning whether she needed the therapy to make the changes she did, or would these have happened organically, anyway?  

Some comments from our readers: 

‘It was quick to read, I wanted to keep reading it, but I found it a bit weird.’

‘…honest, brutal, good read, if you’ve already got an understanding of group therapy.’

‘Brilliant… language was hard sometimes – mirroring sometimes the brutality of the sessions.’

‘I enjoyed it… but didn’t get much sense of the group dynamic… odd, given how close she got to the members.’

To find out more about our Book Group, follow our Twitter or Facebook feed, or you can email Lena for some more information!

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