Balint Groups: The Nuts and Bolts of Making Better Nurses
Balint group is a form of case-discussion group, originally developed by the psychoanalysts Michael and Enid Balint in the 1950s for GPs to help them achieve a deeper psychodynamic understanding of the doctor-patient relationship and thereby improve the therapeutic potential. Later on Balint groups have spread across the world, extending gradually to other helping professionals such as psychotherapists, nurses, social workers, educators, teachers etc. Now we can see Balint movement coming to Iran. Running Balint groups for various professionals and training courses for Balint leadership has recently been considered. However, limited studies on Balint groups in Iran have been found. We have been running a one-year Balint group for psychiatric nurses in Razi Psychiatric Hospital, and a 6-month group for pediatric nurses in Ali-Asghar Hospital in Tehran, both led by a psychiatrist with a psychotherapy fellowship and familiar with psychodynamic psychiatry. In 90-minute sessions held every two weeks, the presenter reports the patient story, and then gets an impression of the feelings, thoughts and associations his presentation evoked in others. Nurses are susceptible to compassion fatigue due to their high workload and stress, which may affect their performance and their relationship with patients and their caregivers. Balint Group is a safe place in which they can be heard, understood and supported by their colleagues.
We want to examine the experience of these group members, and also, to investigate the effect of the Balint group on job burnout, stress related symptoms, empathy and caring behaviors among the nurses.
Dehkordi, Mansoureh Kiani
MD, psychiatrist, fellowship of psychotherapy, Psychosis Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran
MA in clinical psychology