Permissive and authoritarian hypnosis are the two major approaches used for Induction, deepening and therapy.


Permissive and authoritarian hypnosis – the authoritarian

The authoritarian is more traditional and is characterised by directness. Authoritarian suggestions are commonly clear, short and to the point. These will be delivered in a confident tone, which may border on commanding at times. Often authoritarian suggestions will be delivered in a clipped manner with significant pauses between them to allow the suggestion to sink in.  By tradition sleep suggestions are associated with the authoritarian approach, most well know of which is “deep sleep”, but also “drowsy” ,”tired” and “sleepy”. Some authoritarian inductions use a degree of physical discomfort, and the subsequent relief of that discomfort, as a physical suggestion.

Authoritarian inductions are believed to be more appropriate for people who are used to giving and receiving orders, although they should rarely be given in such a strong manner. In addition, these are often suggested as good techniques with analytically minded people who prefer clear direction.

Permissive and authoritarian hypnosis – The permissive

The permissive by comparison is a gentler approach, being generally slower than the authoritarian. Permissive approaches give the subject choice, or rather the perception of choice. The subject may be “invited” to relax, asked which type of relaxation do they think they will experience first “mental or physical?” , questions and invitations are common indicators of a permissive approaches. Typical suggestions used in permissive approaches include “you may…” “perhaps..” “some people…” and “relax”. Permissive inductions allow the subject the sense of retaining control over their depth of experience by allowing them these choices and not forcing them to go deeper.  Evidence suggests that most people are more comfortable with permissive approaches. (Spinhoven, Baak, Dyck & Vermeulen 1988)


hypnotic deepeners

The author – Matt Krouwel is a hypnotherapist and post graduate researcher into hypnotherapy at University of Birmingham (UK)



Spinhoven, P., Baak, D., Dyck, R. V., & Vermeulen, P. (1988). The effectiveness of an authoritative versus permissive style of hypnotic communication. International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis, 36(3), 182-191.