History of ESH

The European Society of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Medicine (ESH) has a long and complex history. Until 1976, there was only the International Society of Hypnosis. As European professionals visited international congresses they had the experience that different forms of hypnosis – sophrology, guided imagery, and autogenic training – which had commonly been used in Europe, were not accepted as mainstream hypnosis by American and Canadian colleagues. They were the leading figures of ISH by then.

At the 1976 ISH congress in Philadelphia, Per-Olof Wikström (Peo) – together with a group of European professionals, including, Basil Finer from Sweden, Vladimir Gheorghiu from Romania,, Dietrich Langen and Hanscarl Leuner from Germany, Marjan Pajntar from Slovenia, Heinrich Wallnöfer and Gerhard Barolin from Austria – presented the idea of a European section of ISH, called the European Section of the International Society of Hypnosis (ESISH).

In 1978, ESH began as a group of seven national societies to bring their resources together. The group took the initiative for the organization of the first European congress of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine in Malmö in 1978. The congress was organized by the Swedish Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis (SSCEH), together with the Swedish Society of Medical Psychology, partly sponsored by the ISH, and partly by the University of Lund.

A memorable Viking Banquet was offered to participants and Peo, with his enthusiasm for the sake of hypnosis still reminds many of the “King of Swedish Vikings’. He suggested an alternative choice: instead of separating the European Society from the ISH, they should develop a co-operation between the “Big Brother” (ISH) and the league of the few European societies. Peo coined a saying he was fond of “We must build bridges between the Old and the New World.” Years later, Peter Bloom asked if he could borrow Peo’s bon mot to make it sound as “Building Bridges of Understanding” and if the theme of ESH also could become the theme of the ISH. And since then, ISH and ESH can live in mutual cross-fertilization under the same heading “BUILDING BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING”. Since 2014, the two societies use this motto as the title of their shared texts in their newsletters.

In 1989, the journal of the Swedish Hypnosis Society SSCEH – Hypnos – was chosen as to be the official journal of the European Society of Hypnosis. In the line of building bridges, many interested non-Swedish hypnosis practitioners became foreigner members of SSCEH and readers of Hypnos. It had an international corner, and many experts and clinicians active in the field of hypnosis were personally invited to contribute to it.

At the ESH Congress in Konstanz, ESH was formally established on 20th August 1990 when the Constitution was ratified with the name: “European Society of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine”.

During the 1990s, financial reasons made it difficult for ESH to continue sponsoring the journal Hypnos. The journal Contemporary Hypnosis, published by the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH), was chosen as the successor and official journal for ESH. It remains the official journal of ESH. It is published in paper and online format as Contemporary Hypnosis and Integrative Therapy.

Since 2006 ESH has started to publish ESH Newsletters. Nicole Ruysschaert has been editor from 2006 until 2011, then Consuelo Casula from 2011 through 2014. András Költő started editing the Newsletter since December 2014.

In 2011, the Board of Directors proposed a change of the name of ESH and deleting “psychosomatic” to emphasize the application of hypnosis in the whole field of medicine. At the 2011 August CoR meeting in Istanbul, CoR members voted unanimously to change the name into: ESH: European Society of Hypnosis in Psychotherapy and Medicine. The Logo was adapted accordingly.

Reviewing history, and the different milestones in the history, ESH had several opportunities to celebrate anniversaries…

Seeing 1976 as the first step – the conception of ESH – made 2006 a very special year for ESH, when we celebrated our 30th anniversary during the 2006 ISH congress in August in Acapulco under the leadership of Peo.

Seeing 1990 as the real birth – the ratification of the constitution – we took the opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary at the ISH Congress in Paris, held in August-September 2015.

ESH has expanded progressively to these days. Now we have around 38 member societies, and we are still expanding.

ESH have held twelve triennial Congresses so far and the following people served as President, incoming at the ESH congress.

Nicole Ruysschaert
4th September 2015
Revision 29th October

ESH Congress and Past Presidents                                              

  • I  1978 – Malmö (Sweden)  – Dietrich Langen (Germany) and Olof Wikström (Sweden)
  • II  1981 – Dubrovnik (Yugoslavia)  –  Marjan Pajntar (Yugoslavia)
  • III 1984 – Abano Terme (Italy)  -David Waxman (UK)
  • IV 1987 –  Oxford (UK) – Walter Bongartz (Germany)
  • V 1990  –  Konstanz (Germany)  – 1990 / 1991:  Günther Bartl (Austria) 1991 / 1993:  Erik Bölcs (Austria)
  • VI 1993 – Vienna (Austria) – Eva Bányai (Hungary)
  • VII  1996  – Budapest (Hungary) – 1996 / 1997:   Joop Verlinden (Netherlands) 1997 / 1999:   H. de Berk (Netherlands)
  • VIII 1999 – Noordwijkerhout (Netherlands) – Camillo Loriedo (Italy)
  • IX  2002 –  Rome (Italy)  – Shaul Livnay (Israel)
  • X 2005 – Gozo (Malta) – Mhairi McKenna (UK)
  • XI   2008 –  Vienna (Austria) – Matthias Mende (Austria)
  • XII  2011 –  Istanbul (Turkey) – Nicole Ruysschaert (Belgium)
  • XIII  2014 – Sorrento (Italy) -Consuelo Casula (Italy)
  • XIV  2017 – Manchester (UK) – 2017 – 2019: Martin Wall (UK) 2019-2020: Gerard Fitoussi (France)             
  • XV 2020 – Basel (Switzerland) cancelled – Kathleen Long (UK)
  • XVI 2023 – Istanbul (Turkey)                                 

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