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What is a Balint Group?

A Balint group is a group of clinicians, often physicians, who meet regularly to present clinical cases in order to improve and to better understand the clinician-patient relationship. While physicians are usually trained to seek the “right” answer to medical problems, in a Balint group, the focus is on enhancing the clinician’s ability to connect with and care for the patient.

A Balint group session begins with a member presenting a case for the group to discuss. The group learns about the patient through the presenter’s story and about how their relationship seems to the clinician. During the facilitated discussion, the group members uncover different and new perceptions about the patient's and physician’s feelings and their experiences with each other.

A Balint group usually has two leaders who facilitate the process. The success of a group depends on its members being honest, respectful, and supportive of divergent opinions. The content of the group is confidential. A Balint group may meet for months or years, and group cohesion and trust develop over time.

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Balint Testimonials


Not only is Balint work mainly internal, and not that visible in terms of action-oriented, specific behaviors, the work is done by everyone in the room. The group members who are not presenting, and may feel only that they are struggling to understand why the presenter is having some kind of difficulty with this patient - can often feel a shared bond with the presenter. Over time and with practice, you can become better at figuring out the different ways to look at the presenter's situation. You can have your own, personal small revelations. Nobody needs to know what you realize - you can keep it to yourself. You can have your own personal shift in perspective.
~ Alec Chessman
I have never really been involved in Balint groups before, let alone have the experience of leading. It was amazing to me, through the format of this conference, how I was able to quickly grasp onto the concept of the group as well as the concept of coleading a group.The Balint group process feels like such an incredibly powerful tool to enrich the patient-doctor relationship. I am very excited about getting back and starting this with our resident physicians.
~ Balint Intensive Participant


Balint groups provide a unique experience for clinicians to share their feelings of shame, helplessness, anger etc. that they have been trained to ignore and for which they have no avenue of expression. Group members often report a sense of relief and are buoyed by the experience of learning that they are not alone. The opportunity to bring out such forbidden feelings into the light of day in a protected and confidential environment facilitates the reduction of shame and thus the sense of aloneness that most clinicians experience in the emotionally demanding work of caring for patients.
~ Kathleen Ulman

 "Restoring the Core of Clinical Practice: What is a Balint group and how does it help?" by Laurel Milberg, PhD and Katherine Knowlton, PhD. Available in paperback or ebook. 

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The American Balint Society
, is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the therapeutic relationships between healing professionals and their clients/patients. The American Balint  Society is a member society of the International Balint Federation