With permission from Leslie Bullock’s family we put down Les’s own writings as submitted at the Australian Hypnotherapists Associations’ (AHA) 50th Anniversary dinner 10 years ago. Les was with us in September 2009 to celebrate the AHA’s 60th Anniversary of Foundation as well as the AHA’s first World Conference. It is with pride that we are able to print his memoir of his part in the formation and struggles of those early years of Hypnotherapy in Australia. He will be sadly missed, but always remembered for his pioneering spirit and dedication to the Art and Science of Hypnotherapy. Leslie Stanley Bullock, 12th October 1925 – 14th May 2010.
The Early History of the Australian Hypnotherapists’ Association in New South Wales
by Les Bullock
Approximately 30 to 33 years ago Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia all introduced legislation to restrict the use of hypnosis.
In the very early 70’s, I was concerned that restrictions might be imposed on our practices in New South Wales. I contacted the two members of the AHA in New South Wales, Joe Kee and Warwick Bateman and asked if it would be possible for me to join. They said that I would have to contact the members in Victoria and make a formal application, so I made a special trip to Melbourne to see if the AHA would be prepared to accept me.
They were all very pleasant and friendly and showed me their clinics and showed me exactly how they were working. However, they said that restrictions were now in force and they didn’t want to jeopardise their position by accepting other members.
I was very disappointed and so when I returned to Sydney I rang all the hypnotherapists listed in the Sydney Yellow pages and suggested we get together to discuss the possibility of forming an Association. Most came along, and at the meeting it was decided to form an Association which we called the NSW Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (or a very similar name).
Eventually we were joined by Warwick Bateman and Joe Kee, who were the only two members of the AHA in NSW. Once our organisation was formed, a South Australian Hypnotherapy group asked us to merge with them.
However, I wrote to the AHA in Melbourne, told them what we had done, and that their two NSW members had also joined us. I also mentioned that we had been approached by a South Australian organisation but we would prefer to merge with the AHA if they were prepared to have us. I suggested we would dissolve our organisation and become the NSW branch of the AHA if they agreed.
The AHA replied that they would be happy to have us, provided we could pass their exam and would be prepared to abide by their Code of Ethics. Accordingly the President and one other executive member came to Sydney and held examinations and psychological tests. All of our members were accepted except two.
As the years went by, one by one the various States introduced restrictive legislation. Time and time again there were attempts to introduce similar laws into New South Wales. Throughout those years I did most of the negotiating with the politicians and spent a lot of time obtaining publicity for our cause.
Until recently, NSW was the only major State in Australia where the free open practice of hypnosis is allowed. All the other States gave in. We fought back. However it has been a constant battle. There have been numerous attempts to introduce bills, but we always managed to defeat them, often with great difficulty, but we survived.
I believe that if I hadn’t rung up all the Sydney therapists and got them to organise into a group, the NSW branch of the AHA as it exists today, would never have come into being.
Joe and Warwick were quite happy to coast along as the only AHA representatives in New South Wales. Only a few Victorians are left now, and I believe by now the AHA would have been on the verge of extinction, with most of the members retired or about to retire. Also if I hadn’t done all the things that I did, the legislation would have been introduced into New South Wales and our profession would have gradually died out right around Australia, except for doctors, dentists and psychologists.