A female patient with a history of sexual abuse, after extensive individual work, felt ready to augment her treatment regimen with weekly group therapy. In the past she had participated in homogenous groups for women with similar issues. During the group preparation phase (Fehr, 1999, 2003) she expressed enormous anxiety that this therapist's groups were all mixed gender. The therapist was empathic about this concern but at the same time suggested that the patient had an opportunity to address this problem by using the group as a place to practice being trustful with men.

The patient was skeptical but felt encouraged by the safety of her own long-term relationship with this therapist. At her initial two sessions the patient was clearly anxious as she carefully watched the men's interactions in the group. At her third session she surprised herself by taking the risk of reporting her abuse history to the group, all the while eyeing the therapist who maintained a reassuring gaze. The male group members responded with genuine understanding and distress about her difficult history resulting in visible relief on the part of the patient. This interaction was experienced as profoundly reparative for her. It also had a significant impact on her previous knee-jerk stereotyping of men, and she repeatedly shares this "epiphany" with the group. This patient's practicing behaviors are followed up closely in her individual sessions where she is given ongoing encouragement about her successful efforts.

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