"At the center of medicine there is always a human relationship between a patient and a doctor."
What is a Balint Group?
A Balint Group meets regularly to present clinical cases in order to improve and to understand the clinician-patient relationship better. While clinicians are usually trained to seek the right answer to clinical problems, in a Balint Group the focus is on enhancing the clinician’s ability to connect with and care for the patient. Balint Groups are participatory and experiential, but they do not provide training in how to be a group leader.
A Balint Group session begins with a member presenting a case for the group to discuss. The group learns about the patient through the presenter’s story and about how their relationship seems to the clinician. During the facilitated discussion, the group members uncover different and new perceptions about the patient's and clinician’s feelings and their experiences with each other.
A Balint Group usually has two leaders who facilitate the process. The success of a group depends on its members being honest, respectful, and supportive of divergent opinions. The content of the group is confidential. A Balint Group may meet for months or years, and group cohesion and trust develop over time.
Balint Groups provide an opportunity to develop insight into the interpersonal aspects of professional practice and to become more empathetic with patients, clients, congregants, students, etc., and with oneself. Most frequently Balint Groups are used by health care clinicians throughout the United States and internationally to improve clinician/patient communication and clinical effectiveness, increase practitioner satisfaction, and decrease isolation. Residencies and other training programs use Balint Groups as part of their curriculum addressing professionalism, clinician/patient communication, and clinical ethics. Balint Groups have been extended for use by veterinarians, psychotherapists, clergy, educators and Collaborative Law Professionals.