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.The doctors were invited to present cases from their practices and these would be discussed by the seminar members under the guidance of one or two leaders, who were psychoanalysts. In this way the doctors were able to benefit from the analysts' way of looking at the material although they did not often make analytical interpretations.
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: