of Balint groups are in the classical understanding working groups of approx. eight to twelve lady doctors and/or. Physicians, who meet under the line of an experienced Psychotherapeuten regularly, in order to speak over „problem patients “from their practice. The goal is an improved physician patient relationship, which is to finally lead to an improved understanding and an improved treatment of the patient.
The method was designated after Michael Balint, a psychiatrist and Psychoanalytiker of Hungarian origin. Balint had accomplished drop conferences with social workers after the Second World War to the Londoner Tavistock Clinic first. In them the participation could learn to notice the unconscious processes in the work with their clients on the background of psychoanalytischer theories better. Starting from 1950 it accomplished similar drop conferences with established family doctors and called it discussion seminars over psychological problems in medical practice. it reported 1954 in British the Medical journal on its new method of the medical further training. 1957 appeared its classical author “The doctor, his patient and the illness”.
The most important methodical element of the Balint group work is the free report over a case example. Usually a group participant describes a meeting with a patient. The group examines then together in the free collegial discussion, in free association and Fantasie the physician patient relationship recognizable from it. “Our principal purpose was as thorough an investigation of the constantly changing physician patient relationship as possible, i.e. the study of the pharmacology of the drug “physician””, explained Balint. It compared thus the effectiveness of the physician with a medicament, which can have desired and unwanted effects.
The concept is the basis the psychodynamische disease understanding of the psychoanalysis . Afterwards the attention is particularly directed toward the phenomena of the transmission , Gegenübertragung and involution. Central asking are thus: What makes the physician with the patient? What makes the patient with the physician? Which feelings does it release in him (and in the remaining group participants)?
From this relations diagnosis conclusions are drawn on unconscious conflicts, the patient and physician “bring along”. In particular the conscious making of the Gegenübertragungsgefühle (e.g. Dislike, annoyance, lack of interest, intensified interest, compassion, helplessness, etc.) gives valuable diagnostic references, which can flow helpfully into the further contacts with the patient.
Balint groups are today generally recognized as an element in the out and further training of physicians and Psychotherapeuten and also as supervision method in other ranges of the health, social and educating nature. In modified form they find to application with high-level personnel by experienced ladder within this range. At some universities Balintgruppen are offered also for students. In Germany is for physicians, who want to attain the auxiliary designation „Psychotherapie “and for doctors participating in a public health insurance, who participate in the psychosomatischen basic supply, the proof of Balint group experience obligatorily.
- Michael Balint: Training general practitioners in psychotherapy. British Medical journal 1954; 1: 115-120
- Michael Balint: The physician, its patient and the illness. 10. Edition, Stuttgart, Klett Cotta 2001
- C. Nedelmann, H. Ferstl (Hrsg.): The method of the Balint group. Stuttgart, Klett Cotta 1989. ISBN 3-608-95661-1