A Balint Taster – Dr Jan Hanson

If the doctor looks after the patient, who looks after the doctor?

A Balint group is a facilitated form of reflective practice, focusing on the doctor-patient relationship. Balint groups are not therapy for the participants, though they are often therapeutic.

In many ways the complete antithesis of the usual “grand round” or peer review discussion, a Balint case is presented to the group without notes, from memory.  Rather than focusing on the biomedical aspects, the group is encouraged to speculate about what might be happening in the practitioner-patient relationship, and how the health practitioner or the patient might be feeling.  The aim is to understand the situation in a deeper way, not to judge or give advice or offer solutions to the presented case.  

Those who participate in Balint groups report reduced rates of burnout, greater work satisfaction, and increased ability to manage the “difficult” consultation.  They are more empathic to patients’ feelings and more aware of their own.  

The types of cases presented are those that weigh on the practitioner’s mind, those found “difficult” for some reason, the patient who has remained in our thoughts and nagged at us.  Discussing a case at a Balint meeting means coming away feeling less burdened, whether you have presented your own case or been a discussant.

Please note:  Places are limited. Participants are asked to commit toparticipation in both the morning and afternoon sessions.  Consider a caseyou would like to bring to the group as there will be opportunity for some participants to present a case for discussion.

For more information see:  What happens in a Balint group?

Key Learning Point:   improved understanding of the practitioner/patient relationship leading to increased effectiveness and greater job satisfaction.

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