The History of BSCAH and her sister Societies

By Dr Ann Williamson

The origins of BSCAH date back to 1952 when "the British Society of Dental Hypnosis" was formed. Three years later a medical section was added and the society was renamed "The Dental and Medical Society for the Study of Hypnosis". In 1968 following adoption of a new constitution the Society was renamed "The British Society of Medical and Dental Hypnosis" (BSMDH).

In 1992 BSMDH Scotland and BSMDH Mets & South Branches broke away from the main BSMDH Society primarily for financial reasons, and became autonomous bodies.

In 1977 the British Society of Experimental and Clinical Hypnosis (BSECH) was founded for people qualified in psychology, medicine, or dentistry, who shared an interest in the theory and applications of hypnosis, and in hypnosis research, as at that time BSMDH only admitted doctors and dentists into its membership,. The majority of BSECH members were psychologists but not all members of BSECH saw patients - some did not have clinical qualifications and/or were chiefly interested in the theory of hypnosis or in experimental work.

In 1998 BSMDH decided to broaden the membership criteria to include psychologists and nurses and in 2000 this was extended to other registered health professionals. Counsellors and psychotherapists were also admitted if they were UKCP registered or BACP Accredited.

In 1999 Phyllis Alden and myself organised the first joint conference in Warrington which was followed by several more over the years which strengthened the bond between the Societies.

In 2003 we held the first joint conference between BSMDH Scotland, BSMDH Mets & South, BSMDH and the Hypnosis & Psychosomatic Medicine section of the RSM. This became a two to three yearly event with it being hosted in rotation between the three main societies.

In 2004 BSMDH became a registered charity and then a company limited by guarantee the following year.

In 2006 BSMDH Mets and South voted to rejoin BSMDH and also in 2006 BSECH and BSMDH decided to have a joint Academic and Accreditation committee. Many of our members belonged to both BSMDH and BSECH and both Societies had similar aims and objectives so in 2007 it was decided to merge them as The British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis (BSCAH).

In 2010 it was decided that our membership criteria for counsellors and psychotherapists should not be linked to UKCP or BACP and post graduate counsellors have since been considered for membership on a case by case basis with an emphasis on their degree of counselling/psychotherapy training.

BSMDH Scotland (who still restrict membership to doctors and dentists) and the RSM section have maintained links with BSCAH and we co-advertise events as well as holding the joint conference and having occasional joint events with the RSM.


BSCAH is a constituent society of both the International Society for Hypnosis (ISH) and the European Society of Hypnosis (ESH) which means that our members are eligible for member’s rates at ISH & ESH conferences. BSCAH has two ISH/ESH representatives but can send a proxy to the Council of Representatives meetings which are usually held during congresses.

ISH is the world headquarters for researchers and clinicians interested in hypnosis. It serves as the umbrella and meeting place for its members and 30 (still growing) Constituent Societies from around the world. Since 1973, ISH has regularly held triennial congresses and will host its 20th in Paris later this year. ISH traces its roots to the first International Congress for Experimental and Therapeutic Hypnotism held in Paris in 1889 and is proud of its connections to such luminaries as Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud, and Ernest Hilgard.

ESH is a confederation of National Societies specialising in the use of hypnosis in the fields of medicine, dentistry, psychology, and psychotherapy. ESH presently consists of a large number of Constituent Societies from many countries throughout Europe. It was founded in 1976, when a group of European medical professionals including Dietrich Langen, Peo Olof Wikström and Marjan Pajntar, proposed the setting up of a European section of the International Society of Hypnosis (ISH). ESH became independent from ISH on 20 August 1990, when the ESH Constitution was ratified.