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Balint Groups today

“The most important issue in medicine? Not exactly the illness, as the patient as person.. ” (Hippocrates).

The listening attitude of the doctor and his/her willingness and ability to understand the patient as a whole person are crucial dimensions in the diagnostic and therapeutic process.

Doctors should be experts in human relations first of all!

When combined with technical knowledge, the psychological understanding becomes a powerful medecine that helps the doctor to be more effective and the patient to get the perception he/she s considered.

Unfortunately, doctors have little time to spend with their patients and few opportunities to reflect on their daily work with them.

Balint Groups are a concrete training resource for doctors and, more in general, for those professionals who are dealing with their patients to insights and exercise interpersonal skills.


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What is a Balint Group?

Balint group, originated by Michael and Enid Balint who started their work with group at the Tavistock Institute in London, is made of a group of doctors who are going to meet regularly on a long-term base to debate about psychological implications of their activities with patients.

The group is facilitated by an expert leader and doctors revisit their visit and consultation trying to draw what happende and why. The group is not focused on technical aspects, while doctors are trying what the doctor and the patient have said/done during a precise human and professional interaction. Doctors, through dialogue and reflection, get insights on their way of doing things and new perspective (“research cum training”)

The encounters, on a weekly bse,  last one hour and a half and during each encounter only one situations is considered by the group.

Balint group should not be confused with clinical advide or self help groups activities.

Balint group is a unique opportunity to learn about oneslf and the patient, develop a more comprehensive approach to patients' psychlogical needs, make doctors more aware and confident with their feelings.


Balint Groups at work: applications

Balint groups originally have been originated to support practitionners in UK. 

Then, Balint methodology has been extended to different professional families where the key issue is the relationship with the patient.

More recently, Balint groups have been applied to many different professional audiences: not only doctors but a variety of professionals "helping" their patient to deal with their pain/concerns.

The secret winning formula is that professional find the opportunity to reflect about their feelings, reactions and actions in a team context which is supporting and in the meanwhile challenging.

They can learn about themselves, their patients and the interpersonal dynamics in between.

Here are in a nutshell some experiences using Balint group methodology:

- permanent training with a group of pediatricians. These professionals have been meeting up once a week fo 9 years. con pediatri di libera scelta;

- familiarization (12 meetings every two weeks): Centro Diurno of Merate (a varity of different professionals taking care of patients); Servizio di Diagnosi e Cura of Lecco and Merate (doctors, nurses and technicians).

familiarization (12 meetings every two weeks) with psychologists working with drug addicted people in AUSL 1 di Milano.


Benefits from Balint group training

L’esperienza del gruppo Balint aiuta i dottori e gli operatori delle professioni di aiuto a:

  • Ampliare la capacità di ascolto ed esercitare l’empatia con i diversi pazienti (e familiari).
  • Comprendere come i propri sentimenti influenzano le interazioni con il paziente nelle varie fasi della consultazione.
  • Esplorare e gestire le proprie emozioni e reazioni nelle situazioni percepite come difficili o minacciose.
  • Rafforzare la consapevolezza del proprio mestiere, lavorare sulle sfumature psicologiche che fanno la differenza.

Gli interventi che sviluppiamo con il metodo Balint sono di due tipi:

-short-term familiarization (generally, a group meeting every week or every two weeks for a period of 10-12 encounters).

-permanent training (at least two-years experience in a training group meeting reguarly every week).

 Here are below some feedback from professionals who have attended a Balint group:

"a very special opportunity to amplify one's awareness aout emotions and reactions when dealing with patients"; " a place to express individual experience with patients and to debate with colleagues important issues aboout you and your patient in a specific interpersonal rapport"; "the group sessions are the possibility to reflect on your way and behaviors when consulting to the client: and the group memebres contribution are an incerdible value".


Balint Groups around the world

Although it still remains a elitarian experience, Balint Group has spread ut all around the world.

Balint Methodology has been brought to Italy by doctor Severino Rusconi, a psychology who ghas been taught by Miichael Balint. 

At an International level, the Balint community is represented by the International Balint Federation which is coordinating the local Associations. 

The Italian Association is the AMIGB which is made of thos people who have been trained in Balint Group, both professionals and group leaders (who have to be trained specifically and are chartered to facilitate Balint Groups appropriately).

Guido Prato Previde is a chartered Balint group leader who has a wide experience of Balint group conducted in accordance with the authentic method.



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Decathlon Consulting di Guido Prato Previde - Cascina Carazzina, Via Carazzina - Tangenziale Sud - 26900 Lodi
tel. +39 348 2605889 - - P.IVA 10668390965