Monday, 6 February 2012

Balint groups - start one!

     One well-established (1950's), but still relatively unknown approach to managing the stresses of professional life among physicians, nurses and other health-care professionals - including students, is participating in a Balint group. There are "regular case discussions in small groups under the guidance of a qualified group leader. The work of the group involves both training and research." 
     There are Balint federations in various, mainly European countries, as well as the US.

     "Balint Groups currently serve as a core training modality for professionalism, and are used in training programs in medical, psychological, and caring professions.

Balint groups help clinicians:
  • Recognize they are not alone in having challenging interactions with patients
  • Develop increased understanding and empathy for patients
  • Explore how feelings and thoughts affect the clinician-patient relationship
  • Expand their capacity and repertoire for handling difficult situations with patients"
     In Canada, there is a longstanding group that meets in Ottawa, and another in Halifax led by Dr Katherine Warren - for psychiatry residents at Dalhousie University.
     So why so few if so valuable?
     "Because it is fundamentally messy and it is threatening, ... people might not want to have to face their own foibles and weaknesses."
     "I think it is a vulnerability thing. In medicine, there's that old idea that you are the expert who's very strong and people struggle with the idea they are presenting difficulties. I think people are often concerned their conduct or skill will be criticized. But that is one of the benefits, to help people with things they are struggling with, to normalize it."

     Critical Components of Meaningful Communities:


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