Describing exactly what a Balint Group is and does to someone who has not experienced one can be difficult. Mention that the Balints were psychoanalysts sometimes makes people worry that they will find themselves being analysed or that they will need to have specialist knowledge of psychoanalytic ideas and vocabulary. However, Balint groups focus on the everyday work of clinicians, using ordinary language and the group leaders are there to divert questions of a personal nature.
The difference from case discussions usually experienced by clinicians, is the focus on the emotions of the clinician and patient arising within the consultation, rather than the clinical content. When listening to others in the group, many people new to Balint discussions soon recognise the relevance to their own experiences. So the best way to find out more is to take part in a group, but in the mean time, two papers by John Salinsky will act as a guide. The first has a title which speaks for itself. The second, Balint groups and the Balint method, discusses in more detail how a Balint group runs illustrated by work with GPs in training, includes an example of a case discussion and a summary of what Balint groups hope to achieve and evidence to support benefit.
There is also a paper by Esti Rimmer, Consultant Psychologist, which discusses some theoretical aspects of Balint Work and you can listen to a talk given by Gearoid Fitzgerald, Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst which revisits the theoretical basis of Balint work, on the Podcast page.
To read any of these papers, click on the menu item on the right side of this page.