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HomeWhy the name "Balint"?

Michael and Enid Balint were psychoanalysts who started seminars for GPs (Family Physicians) in London in the 1950's.

The aim was to help the doctors with the psychological aspect of their patients' problems - and their problems with their patients. The focus of the work was on the doctor-patient relationship: what it meant, how it could be used helpfully, why it so often broke down with doctor and patient failing to understand each other.

In the early years the doctors were encouraged to hold "long interviews" before presenting a patient and saw themselves as a offering a kind of formal psychotherapy to certain patients over a limited period.

Later on, the Balints became more interested in what went on between doctor and patient in ordinary brief consultations, sometimes over a period of years. The long interview was now described as "a foreign body" in general practice. The emphasis had shifted to understanding the ordinary discourse of general practice rather than trying to turn GPs into psychotherapists for selected patients. - John Salinsky MB, June 1997


The originators of “patient-centered medicine:”

Michael and Enid Balint coined the term “patient-centered medicine,” and discussed this in one of their papers. Balint Groups provide a method to train doctors and other healing professionals how to apply a patient-centered approach.

Phillip Hopkins wrote in the introduction to the book “Patient Centered Medicine” in 1972:

“It has been claimed that patients are sometimes considered as mere objects of medical treatment, in that diagnosis and treatment are determined solely by the doctor on the basis of his assessment.  So often, this leads only to dissatisfaction and failure.  The needs of the patient may not be expressed in words and have to be discovered by the doctor's investigation and even intuition.  To satisfy such a patient does not mean simply to satisfy the patient's expressed wishes, but to fulfill deeper, often unconscious, needs, the elucidation of which requires complex and refined techniques.  The kind of medicine that takes into account these needs and satisfactions is well described as "patient-centered medicine", a phrase coined by Michael Balint..” 





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