UCL Medical School together with our clinical colleagues from the Tavistock & Portman Foundation NHS Trust and the Camden & Islington NHS Mental Health Trust provides a unique opportunity for medical students to take part in activities that focus in depth on the doctor-patient relationship through the long running Balint Group and Student Psychotherapy Schemes. Students take part in a Balint group or the Psychotherapy Scheme during their fourth year as ‘longitudinal’ SSCs. Our students take this commitment seriously and gain enormously from the experience. The leads for the programme; Drs Yakeley, Schoenberg and Thompson are rightly proud of the achievements of students who take part in these schemes and this year they are especially proud as two of our students have won prestigious Balint Society prizes. Eve Merry won the annual Balint Society prize for her essay about her experience of being in a Balint group and Jack Marjot won an International Balint Federation Ascona prize.
Jack will be awarded his prize at the 22nd International Balint Federation Conference in Heidelberg this year where another of our students, Christopher Akhunbay-Fudge, who took part in the Student Psychotherapy Scheme who has also been invited to present his essay (submitted for the same annual prize).
Christopher said “The Student Psychotherapy scheme has been, without a doubt, one of the best highlights of my time at UCL medical school. It has taught me much about being a better, more compassionate doctor and has given me an amazing opportunity to speak at an international conference in the wonderful city of Heidelberg!”
UCL Medical School Balint Groups provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their experiences with patients. They aim to: provide an outlet for anxieties and frustrations generated by work; arouse interest in patients previously found upsetting, annoying or “difficult”; open minds to other possibilities, both of diagnosis and day to day management and provide support and improve communication with patients and other professionals.
The Student Psychotherapy Scheme, which has now been operating at UCL for over 50 years allows students to learn about the doctor-patient relationship and the emotional world of the patient by seeing a carefully selected out-patient for once weekly individual psycho-dynamic psychotherapy under weekly expert supervision.
Learning about Emotions in Illness Integrating Psychotherapeutic Teaching in Medical Education a new book edited by Peter Shoenberg and Jessica Yakeley to be published by Routledge early next year outlines both schemes in detail; identifying the unique role they play in medical education.