Firefighters in France are pioneering the use of hypnosis in emergency situations. Over a six-month period they will keep a record of the heart rate, degree of pain and emotional response of the victims they help. They will then compare this data with information from previous rescue operations where hypnosis was not used. Over 120 firefighters have been trained in the use of hypnosis which utilises dissociation and visualisation to transport victims in their imagination to pleasant locations and memories that are far removed from the trauma they are going through at the time.

France is a country that pioneered the use of hypnosis around the turn of the century more than 100 years ago, but since then has not actively promoted the use of hypnosis in therapy. This may be because psychotherapy in France, until fairly recently, was based on Freudian psychoanalysis, and Freud is well-known for having rejected hypnosis in favour of free association.

The British Hypnosis Research and Training Institute has taught many courses in France and I personally have found the students there to be very receptive to learning Ericksonian hypnosis techniques. I was in Paris myself only a few weeks ago teaching for a new young vibrant organisation who are actively pushing back the boundaries of what is possible with hypnosis in France at the present time, and I was very impressed with their setup and their enthusiasm.

All that’s needed now is for other countries to recognise the amazing potential of hypnosis within the emergency services. Let us hope that this move by the French fire service will prove to other countries that hypnosis should be used in many areas where traditionally it was not deemed to be appropriate.

Stephen Brooks