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Balint group

German: Balint-Gruppe

1 Definition

A Balint group is a group of about 8 to 12 physicians who meet to discuss their experiences and improve doctor-patient relationship. This group is usually led by a psychotherapist or a professional supervisor. The method was developed in the 1950s by Michael Balint, a Hungarian physician and psychoanalyst.

2 Methods

The most important method is the free report. Physicians of different specializations have the opportunity to talk about difficult patients. A case description should include the physician's own behavior and personal feelings towards the patient. During the presentation, the other physicians should pay attention to physical reactions, their own feelings, fantasies and sensations. Subsequently the case will be discussed from the viewpoint of a psychodynamic understanding of illness. Analyzing the doctor-patient relationship and discussing perceptions of the group members is more important than what the presenting physician might have done right or wrong. Another important aspect of discussion is recognizing and addressing defense mechanisms like transference, countertransference, regression, enactment, displacement, splitting, counterphobic behavior and reaction formation.

3 Objectives

  • Improvement of doctor-patient relationship
  • Improvement of compliance
  • Better understanding the patient
  • Easier access to difficult patients
  • Recognizing one's own feelings, self-awareness
  • Learning to listen accurately and sensitively
  • Working in an interdisciplinary manner
  • Personal relief
  • Mental hygiene

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