A model potential method is presented that can be applied to many electron single centre and two centre systems. The development leads to a Hamiltonian with terms arising from core polarization that depend parametrically upon the positions of the valence electrons. Some of the terms have been introduced empirically in previous studies. Their significance is clarified by an analysis of a similar model in classical electrostatics. The explicit forms of the expectation values of operators at large separations of two atoms given by the model potential method are shown to be equivalent to the exact forms when the assumption is made that the energy level differences of one atom are negligible compared to those of the other.