Understanding NLP Primary Representational Systems for Hypnosis and Life Coaching

by Richard Nongard

What is a Primary Representational System?

A Primary Representational System, or PRS, is essentially your personal learning style and situational response approach, meaning how you best absorb information and/or respond to an event. There are three different Styles: Auditory (hearing), Visual (seeing), and Kinesthetic (feeling). Obviously most everyone experiences all three styles to one degree or another, but we generally have a stronger response in one area over the other two, and this is our “primary” system.

How Do You Find Your Personal Primary Representational System?

There are a couple of different tools available to help you determine your (or your client's) PRS. One of the most popular is the “Nongard Assessment of Primary Representational Systems,” which is a 10 question multiple-choice self-response quiz. The way it works is this: A question or statement is presented about a situation, and three choices are offered. One choice reflects a visual response, one reflects an auditory response, and the third presents a kinesthetic or feelings-based response. You simply read the question and select the option that most closely represents how you are most likely to react if you were in the described situation.

For example, consider this Question:

When you spell a new or difficult word, do you:

___ a.) Visualize it on a blackboard.

___ b.) Sound it out.

___ c.) Start writing it out.

And this one:

If you buy an assemble-it-yourself project, what do you do:

___ a.) Look at the picture on the box.

___ b.) Read the directions out loud.

___ c.) Just start building and complete it by trial and error.

As you can see, in the above response choices for both questions the (a) answers are visually oriented, the (b) answers are auditory focused, and the (c) answers are kinesthetic in nature. Selected responses will vary from question to question and person to person, and while most people will select some answers from all three categories, generally the greatest number of responses will be in a single category, thus determining the individual's Primary Representational System.

For instance, if they have 8 (a) visual responses and 1 response each in auditory and kinesthetic, their PRS is Visual. If they have 6 (b) auditory responses, 3 (a) visual responses and 1 (c) kinesthetic response, their PRS is Auditory.

Why is Identifying a Primary Representational System Helpful?

If you practice NLP techniques (neuro-linguistic programming), life coaching, hypnotherapy or counseling, knowing your (and your client's) PRS can help make learning (and teaching) new information easier. If you know from assessment that a specific client's learning style is more visual, you can take care to supplement your presentation of information to them via actual pictures (or graphs, charts, written text), and/or to describe situations or information more visually, so they can “see it in their mind.”

If they are more auditory, it might be helpful to speak directions or instructions aloud to them, rather than just handing them a paper to read to themselves. Subtle background music is often helpful when studying or concentrating, as is learning by listening to audio-books or other recorded information.

If the client is primarily kinesthetic, it can be helpful to describe concepts in relation to emotions, or to present hands-on projects. Often, the more intense the experience is, either emotionally or physically, the greater impact it will have on their comprehension and retention.

Where Can I Find a Primary Representational System Assessment Tool?

Assessment of primary representational systems is quick and easy, and can make a substantial difference in the comprehension and retention of new ideas. The "Nongard Assessment of Primary Representational Systems” quiz by Richard K. Nongard, LMFT/CCH is included in the Complete NLP Practitioner and Life Coaching Certification Training Program, and is also available here as a free download at www.SubliminalScience.com.

For more information on becoming ICBCH certified in NLP practice, and how to be a Certified Life Coach, please visit our websites or call (918) 236-6116.