Emeritus Councilor - Albert Lichtenstein
Albert Lichtenstein has been quietly growing the ABS since the early 1990’s. He earned his PhD from Michigan State University in clinical psychology in 1984 and first led a group in ’93 with founder Frank Dornfest at the Guthrie Family Medicine Residency, where he has made the bulk of his career. He recalls “being prodded to take an equal part in leadership when Frank put his feet up and closed his eyes in the middle of a group – not too subtle of a hint.”
Albert’s first Balint experiences were firsts for the Society as well, and some of them may have been once-and-done experiments. For example, his first intensive in Charleston (’94) included the opportunity to co-lead with John Salinsky in “a very scary fishbowl with TV cameras whirring around the group.” Despite this fraught event, we are grateful to say that both Lichtenstein and Salinsky have remained central to the Society’s work. Albert was one of the cohort who attended and graduated from the first credentialing weekend in Sayre, Pennsylvania in 1999.
The list of jobs Albert has held with the Society stretches from his start as a Council member in 1998 to his service as US representative to the International Balint Federation twenty years later. In between he has been Secretary, member and Chair of the Credentialing Coordinating Committee, President (’13-’15) and first Director and Mentor for the Balint Group Leader Education Fellowship (BGLEF). His willingness to do what is needed for the ABS has led to invitations in the double digits to work as an Intensive faculty member or a credentialing evaluator. He has a reputation among intensive hosts as someone who speaks up when attention needs to be given to an issue, whether it is comfortable or not.
Albert’s mild-mannered approach might mask how much he has innovated within the Society. He and Don Nease amended the election process and succession of members of the CCC. Legend has it this involved diagrams on cocktail napkins. He nominated a Latino and the first African-American as members of Council. He hired an outside consultant for the Council whose work led to our hiring our first administrative assistant. He suggested and helped form the BGLEF to make training of leaders more accessible. He introduced the Society to online groups. With unflashy style he has spectacularly fulfilled his priority “to make Balint work accessible and available to as wide an audience as possible.”
Like most who become Emeritus Councilors, Albert is still active with the ABS, chairing the Balint Online Committee. He credits his wife Diane for the support and encouragement necessary for his decades of “devotion of time and energy”. He also credits the ABS for repaying that devotion. “The Balint method is based on mutual respect, empathy, and appreciation for what each individual has to offer. People in the Balint community, as much as is possible, live those values. In personal, professional and culturally difficult times the Balint community in the US and around the world has been the kind of family that I have been proud to belong to. As such the Balint community has served as a place of growth, renewal and hope for me.” Through his efforts he has made such a place for many, many others. ~Approved by ABS Council December, 2018.