The Balint group

John Salinsky, in Burton J and Launer J (eds) (2003) Supervision and Support in Primary Care:

“The Balint group is probably one of the earliest methods of clinical supervision to be provided for family doctors. The group and the method are named after Michael Balint, a psychoanalyst originally fromHungary. He and his wife Enid Balint started a series of seminars in London in the 1950s with the aim of helping GPs (family physicians) to reach a better understanding of what they called ‘the psychological aspect’ of general practice. The method consisted of case presentation followed by general discussion with the emphasis on the emotional content of the doctor-patient relationships. The seminar leaders were originally always psycho-analysts: nowadays a group may be led by a family doctor, or a mental health professional or one of each. Whatever their professional background, all leaders need training and experience in the specific Balint method.”

Raja Adnan Ahmed wrote at psychiatry-training.com on October 29, 2018:

“Balint group is formed of clinicians who meet regularly to present clinical cases in order to improve their understanding of the clinician-patient relationship. During these facilitated discussion sessions, the group members uncover various different aspects of the patients and clinician’s emotional state along with the impact it has on their relationship.

The purpose of Balint Groups is not about trying to find practical or clinical solutions. It is about discussing the emotions, emotional reactions and thoughts that come with consultations and interactions with the patients both from a doctor’s and patient’s perspective.

What is the History of Balint Groups? 

Balint groups are named after the psychoanalyst Michael Balint (1896-1970). Balint Groups started as GP case presentation groups involving 8-10 doctors. The case presentations were followed by group discussions facilitated by a psychoanalyst leader. The main aim was to understand the emotional content of the doctor-patient relationship.

Who attends the Balint Group? 

Balint Groups is facilitated by experienced clinicians.

Psychiatry core trainees are advised to attend Balint Group on a regular basis as it is a requirement of the RCPsych core training curriculum.”

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