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Balint Groups

The classic Balint group consists of 8 to 12 practitioners and the team is coordinated by a specially trained Balint group leader. (Balint has built and applied the method for doctors. However, we have found that the method works very well in mixed groups). Their attitude is characterized by high mutual respect. The information is strictly confidential and must not be disclosed.

The group using a specific method analyzes the relationship between the doctor and the specific patient the doctor wishes to comprehend better. The doctor describes his meeting with the specific patient without having prepared his speech and without using any notes and records as it is done in supervision. Verbal and non-verbal messages are conveyed to the participants of the group who “reflect” the practitioner’s relationship with his/her patient through their impression, their imagination, and their feelings. This leads to a complete picture of the effect of one on the other, which the speaker can observe quietly from a distance. This work reveals new perspectives, which he/she can use in his intervention, creating a new perspective for diagnosis and treatment. He/she also recognizes his/her own effect on the patient’s behavior and vice versa.

On the one hand, working in a Balint group also offers a piece of self-consciousness to the doctor, which gradually leads to a “limited but substantial change in his/her personality” (Balint). On the other hand, a physician also learns to concentrate on the patient’s overall personality and experiences that are indirectly, or directly related to his illness. It has been already proven that both mental and social factors can have equally important effects on the development of a disease, as well as physical factors and physical changes on the psyche. On the one hand, working in a Balint group also offers a piece of self-consciousness to the doctor, which gradually leads to a “limited but substantial change in his/her personality” (Balint). On the other hand, a physician also learns to concentrate on the patient’s overall personality and experiences that are indirectly, or directly related to his illness. It has been already proven that both mental and social factors can have equally important effects on the development of a disease, as well as physical factors and physical changes on the psyche. This is the foundation of the Primary Psychosomatic Care for all specialties.

The communication between practitioner and patient becomes easier and more effective.

Therefore, the work in a Balint group is beneficial to both the patient and the practitioner.

This method, which is already being evaluated, is a compulsory part in the specialization of general practitioners and gynecologists in Germany and is going to spread to other countries and specialties.  It is also useful for other health professionals and other ancillary and social professions such as clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses, teachers, pastors, pedagogues, etc.

A session lasts 90 minutes (and it is certified with 2 training units).  BALINT GROUP SESSIONS

Σε μία ημερίδα στην Hellenic Balint Society, γίνονται 2 έως 5 ομαδικές συνεδρίες και πρόσθετες διαλέξεις.

At the Hellenic Balint Society Seminars, both mixed and specialized greek Balint groups are offered. Both have their advantages.

NOTE:

Members wishing to participate in a group of future Balint group leaders will be required to interview for free with a responsible person of the Hellenic Balint Society in order to evaluate their knowledge, experience, and abilities.

How where Balint Groups created?

In the early 1950s, Michael Balint (1896-1970) invited general practitioners to a seminar in London to “study psychological issues in general medical practice.” His idea was that “the most common drug is the doctor himself”. He says: “There is no book stating the dosage in which the doctor should administer himself… or any undesirable side effects.” (“The Doctor, his Patient and the Illness”, Michael Balint 1957)

In Balint groups, we use the doctor-patient relation analysis in order to gain a better understanding of the doctor, the patient and his illness”.

 

The difference between the Balint method and the supervision

And what kind of patients do we present to the groups? These are the two most frequently asked questions.

The difference between working in Balint groups from supervision is that the doctor or psychologist does not get instructions on the technical aspect of the treatment they exercise. He/she are not “accompanied” by the supervisor in their practice as in their first surgery, the examination of a patient, or in psychotherapy. Instead, Balint groups are also attended by people with many years of experience in their work and confident about their technique and how to act in every case.

 

Which patients are presented?

The patients presented in the group are patients who, for some reason, the contact with them creates an “interpersonal emotional difficulty” with more intense feelings than usual. For example, patients who create a kind of aggressiveness in interaction, patients with whom there is an uncertainty in the contact that we do not have with other patients on the same topics and who maybe drive us to do some more tests than we wouldn’t do in similar cases. Patients who start a kind of dispute, or even patients for whom we feel very protective. But also, other patients who, for whatever reason we carry in our thoughts after work.

Even if we do nothing of those, and only the “intensity” betrays a side of the relationship with the patient that is worth analyzing for the benefit of both.

 

More benefits 

The “emotional stress”, or as Badura called it (Badura 1190, S. 113 ff), the “interaction stress” of an interpersonal contact — created when there is a difference between real and socially desirable emotions — is less predictable, pre-designed and controlled by the relevant professional activity. But it has now been proved that the impact of “emotional stress” is a key factor in mistakes in treatment by doctors of any specialty and generally in treating the patient. So far, it has been self-evident that we must “overcome” our feelings in our interpersonal relationships with patients. Some professionals do not even care about analyzing the interaction created by an interpersonal contact, believing it is unimportant or less important, perhaps they even wrongly see it as a sign of non-professionalism to deal with the emotional side. But the opposite view is just the right one!

The practitioners need to analyze their feelings and understand the dynamics of the uniqueness of their relationship with the patient so that they can have a comprehensive picture of the person to whom they offer their services and proceed in the right treatment.

Balint Groups from the Hellenic Balint Society

Closed Balint Groups (specific number of participants) led by a recognized coordinator from the Greek Balint Society are offered every 2-4 weeks in Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Heraklion and Chania.

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