THE HISTORY OF SASCH – A COLLABORATIVE CONSTRUCTION

“A number of us decided to get together for discussion and “mutual support” in the use of hypnosis. We were all very enthusiastic…”


Read here how a few of the hypnosis pioneers in our country remember the early days.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SASCH contributed by Dr Trevor Modlin

1. The Beginning Until the late 1970’s there was no comprehensive training in Clinical Hypnosis offered by any South African university or group recognised by the then SA Medical and Dental Council, although this was the case in many countries overseas. To effect a formal professional training that complied with international standards, a group of health-care professionals established the South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis (SASCH) in the late 1970’s.

This group was an ideal mix of the professions, namely:  Drs Louise Olivier and Wolf Solomon (clinical psychologists), Dr Jules Leeb (obstetrician and gynaecologist), Dr Bernard Levinson (Psychiatrist), Dr Eddie Van Rooyen (anaesthetist) and the late Dr Syd Rootenberg (dental surgeon). From this small group and later led by Dr Louise Olivier, SASCH grew rapidly over the next ten years to a membership of more than 200 enthusiastic professionals, reaching a peak membership of more than 450 by the late 1990’s.

SASCH, already a member of the International Society of Hypnosis (ISH), was then accepted as a Division of the then Psychology Association of South Africa. The latter, of course, became the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) as Medical Council evolved to become the Health Professions Council of South Africa. This membership enabled medical doctors to teach clinical hypnosis in accordance with Council rules and allowed participation in PsySSA Congresses at which SASCH is well represented at an exemplary standard.

 2. How SASCH is organised The Constitution of SASCH follows that of PsySSA with an Executive Committee consisting of an elected Chairperson, Vice-chairperson as well as portfolios of Training, Ethics and Discipline, Protocol and Liaison and Administration.  There are active and enthusiastic Branch Committees in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Border and KwaZulu-Natal.

Membership has been predominantly from the psychology profession and several hundred psychologists have been trained at least at Elementary level with many at Advanced levels. A number of dental surgeons and about 60 medical doctors have been trained from various disciplines: general practitioners, obstetricians and gynaecologists, psychiatrists, specialist surgeons and physicians.

SASCH produces a high-quality quarterly publication ‘Hypnos’ and organises regular meetings, seminars and workshops around the country.

 3. Training offered SASCH is unique in the world as the original Society that offered training in all the major modern modalities in Clinical Hypnosis under ‘one roof’. These courses are offered at the major centres at Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Levels in the modalities of:

◦◦◦ Traditional and Integrative Hypnosis
◦◦◦ Ericksonian Hypnosis
◦◦◦ Ego State Therapy
◦◦◦ Medical Hypnoanalysis


Eligible members are entitled to take the Diplomate examination which is the highest professional qualification that SASCH offers. Members are able to work towards a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnosis under the auspices of Stellenbosch University.

These Training Courses are recognised by the Health Professions Council of South Africa for statutory Continuing Education in the Psychology and Medicine disciplines.

 4. Congresses and Activities SASCH was responsible for a highly successful and acclaimed International Congress in 1995 at Sun City – the 1st Africa Congress of Clinical Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine. More than 250 professionals attended, including many delegates and presenters from USA, Canada, Europe, the UK and Australia.

Subsequently, SASCH has presented several National Congresses.

Many members have contributed to ISH Congresses and to peer-reviewed journals internationally – and their standard of expertise well recognised.

SASCH has been awarded the most active and contributory Division of the Psychological Society of South Africa several times.

Here is what Jules Leeb remembers:

“Thinking about the History of SASCH certainly brings up a few memories. I will try and give you as much history as I possibly can remember. I can certainly remember most of the faces of the people involved but not all the names. So, if I leave anyone out I apologise in advance.

The most important person in organising the beginning of the South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis – SASCH, was Wolf Solomon. He was also responsible for the initial logo and printing of the membership certificates et cetera.

Let me go to the beginning…

On Friday evening Saturday and Sunday, sometime in August 1979, the Witwatersrand medical School organised a weekend training course In “Clinical Hypnosis”. About 50 of us attended this weekend course.

Many of us became particularly interested and persuaded Bernard Levinson (psychiatrist) and Sydney Rootenberg (dentist), who had run the original course, to give us a follow-up course. This was held on a weekend about two months later at Tara Hospital. There were probably about 25 of us at this weekend course.

A number of us decided to get together for discussion and “mutual support” in the use of hypnosis. We were all very enthusiastic. The first meeting was held at the home of Wolf Solomon. All the initial meetings were at his home.[ After he went overseas the meetings were held at my home for quite a few years.] We decided to form a society, and Wolf Solomon did all the groundwork. He contacted The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis for information about setting up a society and we became affiliated with them.

The initial members of the steering committee (that I can remember) were myself, Wolf Solomon, Glenda Hicks, Eddie van Rooyen, Monty Rosen and one or two others whose names I cannot remember. Louise became a member of the society about 18 months to 2 years later, when she was brought to a committee meeting to my home by Eddie van Rooyen, while Wolf Solomon was overseas attending training in sex therapy and I was acting President. He was the first president of the Society and I was elected vice president; a post which I held for almost 20 years.

Louise introduced Pieter Nel to the society and brought him to a meeting at my home. Both of them became members of the committee. Eddie van Rooyen was elected the next president. At that stage we were organising Sunday or Saturday workshops involving various speakers et cetera.

The first course run under the auspices of the society was in 1985 when Louise Olivier and myself ran a weekend course in Pretoria the department in which she was working. We ran a number of courses (basic training courses) and soon we were persuaded to do more “advanced” work.

Louise became the president of the Society and she held that post for the next 14 or 15 years.
The South African Society of Clinical Hypnosis was always dear to my heart and I miss all the friendships.”

More from Jules Leeb in conversation with Hannetjie Edeling:

Dear Hannetjie,

The early trainers were Dr Bernard Levenson and Dr Sydney Rootenberg. They have done their training many years before and I don’t know where. Louise and myself were the first trainers for the South African Society clinical hypnosis. I believe Louise that her training amongst others with Dr Ericsson in the United States.

As for me, apart from attending various international congresses, I was essentially self-trained and have always been reading and practising hypnosis since “day one”. I was fortunate in having a “captive group” in that I treated thousands of pregnant girls who were willing to be hypnotised for their labours.

As members of the society came up the ranks so to speak, and eventually became accredited members so they started training themselves. Some people were born to teach. I have always believed that I was fortunate enough to be one of them.

You ask how my life changed as a result of doing hypnosis. Initially, it wasn’t easy because most of my colleagues thought I was crazy, but it has been the greatest achievement of my life and has provided me with the most satisfaction of anything I’ve ever done.

I run a “full-time” practice from home, but believe it or not I am practising as a “lay therapist” because I am not registered in Australia and are not able to do so.

We are wonderfully happy in Perth and I’m fortunate enough to have trained a few psychologists in MEDICAL HYPNOANALYSIS. Also, I have been fortunate in the doctors have been referring patients to me to train for labour. I have also done a lot of work with palliative care units in treating terminal patients, particularly with pain and anxiety.

You asked how I define hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a word, and everyone seems to have their own definition.
I like the definition that was taught by Dr Daniel Zelling which is “hypnosis is acceptance and expectation”.

The essential qualities of being a good hypnotherapist is “empathy” and a willingness to meet patients at their own level.

Dr Louise Olivier adds:

Jules is reg as hy sê dat daar was eers ‘n belange groep gewees maar die hipnose vereniging het eers volwaardig begin funksioneer toe die eerste opleidingskursus onder the vaandels van die vereniging plaasgevind het.

Hierdie opleidings kursus was onder die “auspices” van die vereniging en die Raad vir Geestes wetenskaplike Navorsing en is deur my en Jules in Pretoria aangbied. Beide Jules en ek het dit ons plig geag om dikwels oorsee tegaan en werkwinkels in gevorderde werk by tewoon sodat ons mens in Suid-Afrika kon kom oplei.

Ons het dan ook saam dikwels oorsee gevorderde hipnosekursusse aangebied. Van die kursusse wat ons destyds oorsee bygewoon het was by PremMisra (expert in gebruik van hipnose in seksterapie), die Watkins egpaar, Maggie Philips en Clair Fredericks (ego-staat terapie), Erica Fromm (psychoanalysis and the use of hypnosis), Milton H. Erickson (Ericsonian hypnosis – ek het persoonlik by hom die opleidinggedoen) en later Jeffrey Zeig, Martin Orne en Harry Stanton (Forensic hypnosis) Richard Kluft (hypnosis with the then Multiple Personality Disorder patients – later Dissociative Identity Disorder), Basil Finer (hypnosis in the medical field) en Jules en Trevor Modlin het kursusse in Medical Hypnoanalysis bygewoon en dit dan ook as kursusse begin aanbied vir lede.

Die verening het veral die volgende persone onder die vaandel van die verenining na Suid-Afika gebring om kursusse vir die lede van die vereninging te kom aanbied. Jeffrey Zeig, Michael Yapko, die Watkins egpaar, Don Ebrahim, Graham Wicks (Medical Hypnoanalysis).

Die eerste groot kongres van die vereniging was die een by Sun City wat ‘n reuse sukses was en baie van die destydse lede het hard gewerk om dit ‘n realiteit te maak.

Meer uit ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse perspektief het die Raad vir Geestes wetenskaplike Navorsing ‘n navorsingsprojek geloods waarvan ek die projekleier was en die projek het die gebruik van hipnose in tradisionele medisyne bestudeer en is gedoen onder the Ngkaka YaMalopa, tradisionele dokters van die Kgaga van Maake – dit is gedoen in the Tzaneen area – ek het dan ook die werk by ‘n internasionale congress in Oxford Engeland aangebied.

Nog ‘n projek is deur die Raad vir Geestes wetenskaplike Navorsing geloods en dit was ‘n internasionale narvorsingsprojek – Die projekleiers was ek en ‘n Nederlandse Sielkundige en die projek het gegaan oor die ooreenkoms van hypnosis met acupuncture en die voordele van die behandelings tegnieke. Hierdie werk is aangebied in Utrecht, Nederland, maar as gevolg van die boikot teen Suid-Afrika was en nie toe gelaat om dit self ook aan te bied nie alhoewel ek daar was, maar my kollega van Nederland het die namens onsaangebied. Ek onthou nog dat ek destyds gemaan is deur die Burgemeester van Utrecht dat ek niewelkom is by die cocktail party wat die stad vir die kongresgangers aangebied het nie. By daardie tyd het Prem Misra, wat ‘n goeiev riend van my geword het en ‘n Indier is en geweet het dat ek nie rasisties is nie, en ‘n klomp ander kollegas beswaar gemaak en hulle het my toe na die cocktail die aand virete uitgevat!

Ek het ook begin terwyl ek by the Raad vir Geesteswetenskappe was met ‘n projekoornavorsing ten opsigte van die gebruik van hipnose in the rehabilitasie van breinbeseerde pasiënte en het later die navorsing in Melbourne Australia by ‘n internasionale kongresaangebied. Dit is dan ook in ‘n boek later gepubliseer. Prof. Lenie Grove het by dieselfde kongres ‘n lesing aangebied oor Ego-staatterapie met kinders en Dr. Woltemade Hartman ‘n lesing oor ego-staatterapie met seksueel getraumatiseerde kinders. Hulle aanbiedings is ook gepubliseer.

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