The aim was to help the doctors with the psychological aspect of their patients' problems - and their problems with their patients. The focus of the work was on the doctor-patient relationship: what it meant, how it could be used helpfully, why it so often broke down with doctor and patient failing to understand each other.
In the early years the doctors were encouraged to hold "long interviews" before presenting a patient and sawy themselves as offering a kind of formal psychotherapy to certain patients over a limited period.
Later on the Balints became more interested in what went on between doctor and patient in ordinary brief consultations, sometimes over a period of years. The long interview was now described as "a foreign body" in general practice. The emphasis had shifted to understanding the ordinary discourse of general practice rather than trying to turn GPs into psychotherapists for selected patients - John Salinsky MB, June 1997.