The function of the group is based on certain rules that ensure the proper conduct of the group work and maximize the benefits for every member and the group as a system. Responsible for the formulation of and compliance with the parameters of the frame is the leader of the group who uses as a reference the frame set by the Balint Society in which he/she belongs, taking into account -to the extent that this is possible- the specific needs and capabilities that exist in each particular group and its members.
The frame of the groups formed by the Hellenic Balint Group is based on the following basic rules:
- The groups usually consist of six to ten people who are mostly doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers and a leader (usually a psychologist or doctor) who has received training and obtained Balint Group leadership accreditation by a Balint Society that is a member of the International Balint Federation. A leader may coordinate groups while still in training, provided that he/she receives supervision by an accredited leader who is a member of a constituent Society of the IBF.
- Before the introduction of a new member in the group, an introductory meeting (“mutual selection interview” as Balint named it) takes place in order for the leader of the group to meet and evaluate the person concerned and introduce him/her to the Balint method
- The leader of the group is responsible for the frame in which the group functions, the coordination of the discussions, the compliance with the rules and the spirit which inspires the Balint method and for solving any problems that may arise in the group.
- In Balint groups there is a confidentiality rule regarding the content of the discussions and the information given about the patients that are presented.
- The frequency of the meetings, the time and day of these and the composition of the group are determined by the leader and remain stable during the year unless a serious need for change appears.
- The possibility to observe a group for those who are interested in joining a group but want to see how a Balint group works first, is given only in demonstration groups (“fishbowls” as it is called in Balint methodology) that are organized for this purpose.
- The groups are not open to occasional participation which means that each member must participate in all scheduled groups unless of course there is an unforeseen event that impedes his/her participation.
- Being punctual in the schedule, abstaining from using electroning devices and generally conducting oneself with respect towards the other members, promote the task and effectiveness of the group.
- Any problems, difficulties or other issues arising in a member or a group with regard to the frame or the procedure, is initially discussed privately with the group leader who is responsible to assist the member in resolving the problem, if this is possible. If the leader decides that the issue needs to be discussed in the context of the group, he/she brings it to the group for discussion.
The frame is intended principally to ensure an atmosphere of security and stability within which the group operates. Although the group leader is mainly responsible for ensuring this condition, the respect of the frame and the leader’s role by the members are in fact the prerequisites that ensure its effectiveness.