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HomeEmeritus Councilor - Frank Dornfest

Emeritus Councilor - Frank Dornfest

Frank Dornfest, MD began his involvement with Balint groups in his native South Africa in 1965, subsequently co-founding one of the first groups in Cape Town. After participating from 1974-1980, he undertook leadership training through supervision by mail with Enid Balint from 1980 until her death in 1994.

Trained as a general practitioner, he immigrated to the United States in 1981, and participated in the consolidation of Family Medicine as a specialty in this country. He introduced Balint work to Family Medicine residencies where he taught in Mississippi, California and Pennsylvania and to national audiences through innumerable presentations at conferences and professional meetings. In 1985 he convened the Group on Balint Training in the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, the group that served as the immediate progenitor of the American Balint Society. As founding president (1990-1993) of the ABS he began a fifteen-year tenure on the governing Council and spearheaded the development of the leader credentialing process. He organized and hosted the first credentialing Intensive for Balint leaders in the United States.

From 1993 to 1998 he served as President of the International Balint Federation, continuing his mission to introduce standards and training for Balint group leaders.  The Hungarian Balint Society honored him as a Lifetime Honorary Member in 1996.  On his visit that year he had “difficulty believing (he) was with the Hungarian Minister of Health outside Michael Balint’s House in Budapest to place a plaque honoring the centennial of their native son.”

Retirement from the Department of Family Medicine in the Oregon Health Sciences University has not slowed his travels to participate as faculty in leadership training seminars in the US and on other continents. He lives in Colorado with Carol, his wife of 47 years, near their children and grandchildren.

A leader of groups, of the Society, and of the Balint movement worldwide, Frank Dornfest has been a vital link between the originators of the Balint method and its future in new lands and a new century. – Approved by ABS Council March, 2012.


 "Restoring the Core of Clinical Practice: What is a Balint group and how does it help?" by Laurel Milberg, PhD and Katherine Knowlton, PhD. Available in paperback or ebook Order Now

The American Balint Society
, is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the therapeutic relationships between healing professionals and their clients/patients. The American Balint  Society is a member society of the International Balint Federation