Different Approaches to Hypnosis: Authoritarian vs. Permissive Approaches

Different people need different approaches to trance, but for most people most of the time, a permissive approach is superior to an authoritarian approach.  Stated another way, hypnosis is not something that is done to someone, rather is done with someone.  One of my favorite hypnotherapy teachers, Roy Hunter PhD CHt, frequently states in his classic book, The Art of Hypnotherapy, “All hypnosis is self hypnosis.”

If “all hypnosis is self hypnosis” as Mr. Hunter suggests, shouldn’t the client be allowed to access trance in the way that best suits the client, in a way that puts the client in control of the process?S  This philosophy embodies the strategy behind the permissive approach.  Milton Erickson was one of the most skilled hypnotists of modern times, and most Ericksonian techniques—such as the permissive embedded commands and double bind statements below—embody his permissive approach.

Below is an example of a direct authoritarian suggestion and a permissive suggestion:

  1. Direct: Breathe deep and relax.
  2. Indirect: Go ahead and see if you can notice your breathing.  It doesn’t matter if you prefer to breathe deeply as you go into trance or if you prefer to slow your breathing down instead. Just allow your unconscious now to notice the gentle rhythms of your body as you relax in the way that most makes sense for you.

For more questions about the authoritarian or permissive approach to hypnosis, contact William Wood  CHt at 801-203-3405 or william.wood@northernutahhypnosis.com .  You can also visit my website at www.northernutahhypnosis.com

I wrote this article for a continuing education course at www.modernjedi.com