In this work, the independent particle model formulation is studied as a mean-field approximation of gauge theories using the path integral approach in the framework of quantum electrodynamics in 1+1 dimensions. It is shown how a mean-field approximation scheme can be applied to fit an effective potential to an independent particle model, building a straightforward relation between the model and the associated gauge field theory. An example is made considering the problem of massive Dirac fermions on a line, the so called massive Schwinger model. An interesting result is found, indicating a behaviour of screening of the charges in the relativistic limit of strong coupling. A forthcoming application of the method developed to confining potentials in independent quark models for QCD is in view and is briefly discussed. (author).