This training offers practical, experiential learning opportunities for those who are currently leading or hope to lead Balint groups. It is also appropriate for those who wish to deepen their understanding of the method and reap its benefits through a concentrated experience. Small group sessions are led by two faculty members who are credentialed Balint leaders. Each session includes a Balint group followed by debriefing of group process and leader interventions. Participants have the opportunity to practice leading Balint groups and receive feedback on their leadership skills.
Balint work is designed specifically to allow transference and countertransference in a therapeutic alliance to become conscious, understandable, and therefore usable, for the clinician.
In a chapter in Making Spaces: Putting Psychoanalytic Thinking to Work (Kate Cullen, et al.) Grant Wilkie describes why Balint groups fit so well in therapists' continuing psychoanalytic study and self-development:
In the Balint group, by opening up pockets of potential space, trainees learn to make use of associative modes of thinking and engage in “serious play, " which allows them to metabolize their experience, to put it into words, and find different ways to think about the problem. In time, the alpha function of the group is internalized, enabling members to think in a quite different way about their work.
The Balint group method emphasizes experience-near language and de-emphasizes authority for its own sake in both the group leaders and the group members. It fits well with contemporary analytic trends. The Balints understood the mutative power of the clinical relationship and the nonverbal, affective components of the treatment experience long before these took their rightful place in psychoanalytic work alongside interpretation.
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