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Jeff Sternlieb
Emeritus Councilor
2020 - present
My introduction to Balint came at a most auspicious time in my life.  A new job, new responsibilities (Lead our Balint group - What’s a Balint group?), and emergency heart surgery all occurred within a few months. Lots of changes, lots of surprises and lots of unknowns.  Leading a Balint group was the least of the changes; however, it has stood the test of time, being ever present, ever challenging and ever rewarding.

My professional journey included stops for teaching psychology at the college level, working at a mental health center and establishing my own psychotherapy practice with children, adolescents and families. In each case, I initially enjoyed the work I had chosen; however, in time, something was missing - my need for new challenges or intellectual stimulation or just wanting to be geographically closer to my family of origin.

And then, decades after grad school, enter Balint!  Joining the faculty of a Family Medicine residency program with an anthropological and systems oriented focus told me that a psychologist’s contribution would be valued here. And so, in October 2002, while being physically, emotionally and vocationally vulnerable, I found myself being lost in a four day program designed to teach Balint group leadership skills.  It was a perfect formula: Personal vulnerability + Balint group experience = light bulbs going on!

I attended another Intensive the following Fall, and a third the next Spring, and by then I was in the credentialing pathway. Within four years of my initial experience, I was organizing the first of many Intensives. Clearly, I was hooked - by the process, by its impact on me personally and professionally, by the community of Balint leaders, by the intellectually challenging process, by the teaching and learning opportunities, and by the significantly central and relevant focus on healing relationships.

Participation in Balint groups and in Balint group leader training and being involved in the national Balint organization has been invaluable, specifically for a number of learnings and their applications.  Experiencing and understanding the creation of emotionally safe learning environments has been enabling my own personal explorations, intellectual and emotional, written and verbal.  The Balint perspectives on how and why individuals function in groups has been a doorway to explanations for questions I have held since my adolescence.  The revelations of layers of reflective processes has informed my teaching, writing and personal growth in ways that have been educational and psychotherapeutic.

I am truly grateful for the personal and professional gifts I have received as a result of my participation in the American Balint Society - gifts in the form of the people with whom I have formed long lasting relationships, opportunities to contribute to sharing what I have learned with others who are interested, and the gift of feeling like I have become a better human being.

For a narrative of Dr. Sternlieb's work with the ABS, consult his Emeritus Nomination. 

 "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 Order Now

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