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HomeEmeritus Councilor Bios
Emeritus Councilors' Biographies - The governing Council of the American Balint Society may award the designation 'Emeritus Councilor' to someone who has served the maximum term allowed on that body, providing generative leadership to the Society.

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.


Clive Brock

Clive Brock began teaching medicine ten years after his 1964 graduation as a general practice physician in his native South Africa. He practices and teaches to this day in the United States, as a tenured Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. He founded one of South Africa’s first Balint groups in Durban in 1975 and started one for his residents on his arrival in Charleston in 1981. He credits Balint group work with profound effects on his long, productive career, bolstering his dedication to Family Medicine and his desire to teach. “Balint work has given me insights and skills that have transformed my life in medicine.”

The impact has been mutual: he has had his own profound effects on Balint work in the United States. A co-founder of its earliest organized form as the Group on Balint Training in the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, he went on to serve as the first Vice-President of the American Balint Society (’90-’93), then as its President (’93-’95), continuing on its governing Council for most of that decade and the next. He was one of the hosts of the first Balint Intensive (1993), the first Balint Weekend and the first International Balint Federation Congress (1994) in the United States. His international Balint efforts have included teaching roles in Australia, Israel and Lebanon.

In keeping with his conviction that evidence would encourage the use of Balint groups, he has been one of the most prolific researchers of Balint work in the United States. “We have an obligation to compete in the market place of ideas and clinical practice in clear and convincing ways.” He advocates and lives “the credo that Balint groups are training cum research enterprises.” His peer-reviewed publications on Balint groups span more than twenty-five years, the most recent appearing in 2011.

He plans semiretirement in the summer of 2012, though he is “holding on” to teaching and Balint work. He and his wife of 46 years, Philippa, have four children and seven grandchildren. 

His own philosophy of teaching sets out the criteria for judging his success:  ”[E]qually important to modeling interviewing and demonstrating the physical exam is modeling relational skills, which involves a self reflective understanding of the doctor patient relationship.” Clive Brock has inspired generations of students and colleagues with his deep appreciation of the usefulness of Balint groups, his subtle understanding of their process and the quiet integrity of his personal example as a physician and a leader. – Approved by ABS Council, May, 2012. 

Laurel Milberg

Laurel Milberg, Ph.D., received her degree in 1978 from the University of Pittsburgh, the same year that she was introduced to Balint groups. She co-led a group with Rex Pittinger, a psychiatrist who had led groups with both Michael and Enid Balint, and she has led groups without interruption for the thirty-five years since. Balint group work has formed her career as surely as she has formed its existence through the American Balint Society.

She describes herself as enthusiastic but clueless as a beginning psychologist teaching family medicine residents. “I was given one hint: I was to conduct Balint Groups.  It was a very good hint, indeed.  Balint work remained the single most potent tool I had for creating a safe but challenging environment where trainees can learn and grow to be competent personal physicians.  It is how I did my job.”

As one of the founding members of the ABS, she participated in many ways, among them: organizing the first American Balint weekend; serving as faculty at the first leadership intensive; attending the first meeting to credential leaders; helping to write the first by-laws; co-authoring the document structuring Leader Credentialing and Credentialing Intensives; structuring the policies and procedures guiding the operation of the CCC and the Intensives Committee; serving as the first Secretary/Treasurer, then as President of the Council from 1995 – 1999. Her roles grew as the Balint movement grew in the country, and she was one of the first Leader Supervisors designated by the society. Her “Pitfalls and Potholes” article remains a staple support of leaders striving to establish groups.

Laurel retired in 2010 from “everything but grand-mothering, gardening, ice skating and Balint work,” to live in Northampton, MA. In 2011 she wrote “The Evolution of Balint Leader Training and Credentialing in the American Balint Society” for the 17th International Balint Congress.

Laurel has greatly furthered her stated interests in the ABS: to help establish leadership training and credentialing, to develop a sustainable organization, and to document the skills of leadership. Her signature combination of incisiveness and constructiveness has formed and informed much of the Society’s work in its first decades. With remarkably reciprocal generativity, she and Balint groups have served each other well.  – Approved by ABS Council, July, 2012


Mary Hall

After medical school at Cornell University Mary Hall trained in Family Medicine at the residency of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, graduating in 1986. The Carolinas never let her leave. She became a faculty member right away at UNC in Charlotte, eventually serving as program director of Family Medicine for ten years and Chair of the department for eight. At the time of this writing she shares her home in Charlotte with husband David, a Family Physician, daughter Katherine, a senior at Wake Forest University, and son Andrew, a sophomore at Duke University.

Mary credits her Balint work as an important source of strength throughout her influential career. “Balint work has been central to my life and to my career.  It has been food for my soul.” It began during residency, when she was “extremely fortunate to experience Balint as a second and third year resident under Clive Brock.” She went on to lead groups for second and third year residents throughout a multi-role tenure in Family Medicine. For years she was the standard answer to the question at intensives about whether it could work to have a program director lead Balint groups: well, it’s not easy, but Mary does it.

Meanwhile she held roles with the ABS, e.g. serving as the first Secretary of the Council when that job was split from Treasurer, setting up the monthly conference calls that allow the governance of the Society to continue, becoming Council President, serving as inaugural Chair of the Weekends Committee, hosting multiple Council business retreats, chairing the Credentialing Committee.  “Laurel Milberg was my mentor in the organization. I learned a lot from her and from others on the Council… [that] I have carried...with me to my other national work and in my home location.”

Her current leadership roles in what’s now called Carolinas Healthcare System involve being in charge of the regional branch campus of the UNC School of Medicine, including 23 residencies and fellowships. And the influence of her Balint work continues in this “complex corporate environment rich with political intrigue.  I attribute my success to skills honed and sharpened in the Balint community.  Complex interactions with colleagues are not unlike those experienced with our patients.  It is not unusual for me to slip into a Balint leader state of mind when working with a group of colleagues on a gritty issue.”

Mary is simply reporting the truth when she says, “It is vital to me to do the work I am passionate about,” and as part of that she still leads Balint groups. The experience is as rich as ever: “The groups allow me to touch the vulnerable parts of the lives of residents and help me to empathize with their struggles.  This helped me to be a better Residency Director, Chair and now Director of Medical Education.”

She describes “the pervasive influence of [her] Balint colleagues who root [her] in the meaning of medicine” with gratitude. All who have been touched by her exemplary leadership, by her integrity, energy and heart, are grateful in return.  – Approved by ABS Council, December, 2012.

Ritch Addison

Ritch Addison began as a faculty member at the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency in 1982, two years before he earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. More than thirty years later he remains their Behavioral Medicine Director, serves as their Well Being Coordinator and as a Clinical Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF School of Medicine.
His list of publications, presentations and invited addresses would suggest he has had no time for anything but work; yet his enjoyment of cycling, often with his wife, and his passion for tennis are as characteristic of him as are his intelligence, humor and nearly legendary willingness to “do whatever needs to be done.”

The American Balint Society has profited from that willingness since its inception. One of his first, and favorite, memories of ABS life involved an Oxford Weekend walk with Frank Dornfest in the last years of the last century.  Dornfest must have understood Addison’s conflict, because he told Ritch he’d have to make up his own mind about whether he wanted to join the ABS or not. “Sleepless, I grappled with my fierce fear of organizations and my fierce pride in my independence from organizations. After much angst, I looked around at all the exceptional people involved in Balint, and that tipped the scales.”

 Even before that time he was asked to organize a team of qualitative researchers (Addison, Will Miller and Penny Williamson) that consulted on the ABS Leadership Project at the 1994 IBF Congress in Charleston, generating the model of Balint leadership that later became the basis for the credentialing process.  A Council member from 1999 to 2001, he became President-Elect in 2001 and eventually retired from the Council because of term limits in 2011. Along the way he served as Intensives Coordinator (2006-2010) overseeing the production of the Practical Guide that makes hosting an intensive manageable anywhere for people without event-planning know-how. He has inspired new hosts, and credentialed leaders now serving as faculty.  Always he has been a magnet for new people willing to work for the ABS and its mission. None would be surprised to learn that of his myriad ABS activities his “all time favorite is teaching at Intensives.”  


Ritch has held a Balint Weekend in Santa Rosa every other year since 2006. He holds the record of most Intensives hosted: 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013. He chaired the Scientific Committee for the IBF Congress in Philadelphia in 2011 and edited the Proceedings from that Congress. Even in retirement from ABS governance he continues to serve on committees: Events, History, Intensives, Scholarship and Research.  He has held a weekend for health care professionals “with Balint groups as centerpiece” at Ratna Ling once or twice yearly since 2010.


What drew him into the ABS were the people, and they remain what has mattered most about his Balint experience. “The absolute best is working with and getting to know and call friends all the magnificent, caring and talented people in the ABS.” Same to you, Dr. Addison.  - Approved by ABS Council, December, 2013

Paul Scott

Paul Scott graduated from Case-Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1968 and went on to do residencies in internal medicine and psychiatry, completing psychoanalytic training in 1984 with the Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Institute. He is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPMC) and maintains a private practice in psychotherapy.


He lives in Pittsburgh with Nancy, his wife of forty-five years.  She is a Senior Institutional Review Board Member at UPMC. Their daughter Becky is a Pediatrician/Hospitalist at New York Hospital, and their son John is the Deputy Chief of Biostatistics for Biologics at the FDA. “Our four grandsons, Oliver, Luke, Victor, and Linus, are a constant source of joy.”


Paul’s affinity for Balint work was spotted right away in his first year of psychiatry residency. “I participated in a Balint group led by Ralph Coppola, MD. Ralph had trained with Michael Balint during his visits to Pittsburgh in the 1960’s and invited me to co-lead a Balint group with him at the newly formed Family Medicine Residency at St. Margaret Hospital.” He still leads three of the many Balint groups he has founded or fostered for UPMC, in their psychiatry, family medicine and ob/gyn residencies.


One of the founding members of the ABS in 1990, Paul was elected to the first Council and served for 23 years, filling many positions, including the presidency from 2005-2007.  His skills and values have been transformatively important to the internal workings of the society. He “took on the task of ordering the many Policies and Procedures and developed a procedure to maintain this integration”; with Treasurer Janet Walker he ”professionalized budgetary matters and instituted rational standards for reserve and discretionary funds.”  His quiet voice of conscience, his contagious mirth, and his utter faithfulness to what makes Balint work unique have always ensured that his opinions and suggestions had a strong impact, no matter how gently they might be delivered.  When term limits led to his retirement from the Council, he agreed to serve as founding leader of the Committee on the History of the ABS.


Paul has hosted multiple Intensives in Pittsburgh and supervised many people in that community and beyond toward the ABS leadership credential. While his regional Balint mark is strong and lasting, his national contributions extend to the method itself. He pioneered a consultation group composed of credentialed leaders with the novel query, “Who’s got a group?” This allowed a focus on what it means to be the leader of the group, and a study of various possible interventions, including those departing from conventional wisdom that may be required in unique situations, ‘parameters’, to borrow a psychoanalytic term. “My hope was that such groups focusing on parameters would help us to understand the variety of techniques of leadership practiced by our diverse membership and in this way remain curious and open to new ideas, while maintaining standards of excellence. “ The level of integration of Balint principles evident in this approach is impressive.  Perhaps that is what lends his statement of enthusiasm about Balint work in his life an undertone of promise: “Wherever there is Balint work afoot, I will be there.” 

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