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Discovery: An EMDR process that uses IFS & Coherence Therapy to bridge from the Preparation Phase to the Assessment & Desensitization phases.

This 3 hour course dives deeper in exploring the Discovery process outlined in IFS-Informed EMDR. It contains a narrated powerpoint presentation followed by three annotated session videos,video recordings from individual & group consultations explaining & summarizing the process, and a bonus video discussing a flow chart developed by a group member.

Course Description

Discovery is a term taken from Coherence Therapy (Unlocking the Emotional Brain [2012], Ecker, et als). It means uncovering the emotional truth behind a symptom derived from implicit memory. It will make sense given the original context. Implicit memories are unconscious and reflexive, and they are at the heart of most of the symptomatic behavior and reactions we see in our clinical practices.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy guides us to understand that in healing work, we are almost certainly going to encounter protectors. These parts are responsible for what might otherwise be seen as resistance, acting out, etc., but they always have underlying positive intentions. They are embedded within an entire protective system of parts.

When we select a trauma target in EMDR, we necessarily activate this protective system, which can very often be complex and vigorous. Often, pushing forward with processing our selected target makes things worse. But backing up and doing intensive resourcing delays productive processing, sometimes indefinitely. This is the dilemma EMDR therapists routinely face.

These ideas from Coherence Therapy and IFS intersect at one point in the EMDR process, on the verge of the Assessment Phase. It is here that we can utilize sets of alternating bilateral stimulation in a new way to process protectors. A way that is in-between resource installation and desensitization, and has advantages of both.

The Discovery process is a bridge from the Preparation Phase of EMDR to the Assessment Phase and beyond. It will clarify the protector's positive intention, uncover the original problems the symptom is designed to solve, and stimulate emerging Self-Presence. All this clears the way for a conventional Assessment Phase and Desensitization with functional dual attention.

Course Objectives

After completing this workshop, participants will be able to:

1. Explain the difference between the conventional EMDR Assessment Phase target elements and the Discovery target elements
2. Identify at least one beneficial by-product of the Discovery process.
3. Describe two primary tasks of the therapist during Discovery.
4. Describe the effect of processing protectors (defenses) on the level of emotional intensity of underlying trauma material.
5. Explain what is meant by "flipping the protector."
6. Explain the difference between Discovery and Desensitization.

Your Instructor

Bruce Hersey, LCSW, is an Approved Consultant in EMDR and also a Certified IFS Therapist & Consultant.

Having completed IFS Levels I, II & III Training, and as a repeat Level One Program Assistant, he has passionately imparted his deep understanding of the model by teaching numerous introductory IFS workshops, leading IFS consultation groups, and providing individual IFS consultation.

He has presented at the IFS International Conference several times, and has been teaching workshops on the integration of EMDR & IFS since 2013.

Additionally, Bruce has extensive experience in Clinical Hypnosis & Sex Therapy.

Contact Bruce for online consultation (zoom video) on the integration of EMDR and IFS, or toward certification in EMDR or IFS at $150 for a 45 minute session.

Continuing Education Information

  • Approved for 3.0 CE distance education through EMDRIA (EC provider #17025), and 3.0 CE for IFS recertification (submit CE-Classes certificate with IFS recertification application).
  • Approved by NEAFAST on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for Massachusetts LMFT professional continuing education.
  • NY SW Board: LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0740.
  • NY MFT Board: LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0116.
  • NY MHC Board: LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0278.
  • NY PSY Board: LLC is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0230. Approved for 3.0 Psychology CE Contact Hours.
  • NBCC:, LLC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 7432. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified., LLC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. 
  • ASWB ACE: Discovery: IFS-Informed EMDR with Blended Protectors, Course #4694, is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program to be offered by Bruce Hersey (, as an individual course. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE course approval period: 09/09/2022 - 09/09/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 6 Clinical continuing education credits.

The Man-in-the-Maze:

Discovery as a Labyrinth

labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our very center and back out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

Labyrinths derived their name from Greek mythology, where the Minotaur, a legendary half-man, half-bull monster whose survival depended upon sacrifices, was defeated by the hero Theseus. Theseus, scheduled to be sacrificed, entered the unsolvable labyrinth with a sword and ball of thread, slayed the monster and used the thread to retrace his steps back out of the abysmal labyrinth.

Deadalus, the skilled architect, craftsman, and artist hired by King Minos to design & build the Labyrinth, was immediately imprisoned & exiled by Minos in order to maintain secrecy of its existence. The myth contains the elements of a secret, well-crafted, and puzzling design whose architect is exiled - much like the stories that unfold in the labyrinths which our clients' inner protectors construct.

This illustration is the Native American Hopi symbol Man in the Maze design, which symbolizesexperiences and choices we make in our journey through life. The Discovery process parallels this inner journey to the core of one's suffering, followed by a transformation, before returning to the outer world and renewed life. 

Prerequisite: Must complete IFS-Informed EMDR before enrolling in this course.

Example Curriculum

  Vital Information
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  Preparation Phase Tips
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  What is Discovery?
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  Session Video One
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  Session Video Two
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  Session Video Three
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  Group Consultation Video: Shifting from Phase 2 to Phase 3 and the Enhanced Assessment Phase Template Handout
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  Consultation Video: Discovery
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  Finishing Up
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  Bonus! Group Consultation: Flow Chart
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Target Audience

This course was created on 5/4/2020 for mental health professionals who are trained in EMDR and interested in learning IFS as a way to deliver EMDR to their clients more safely and effectively.

Completion Requirements

Attendees must complete the entire course, post test and evaluation to receive credit.

A score of 75% or better is required to pass and gain access to your completion certificate. You may retake the test once, after which you must contact the administrator for further guidance.

Accommodations for the Differently Abled

This workshop is held in a facility and/or delivered in a manner that is in compliance with the Americans Disabilities Act. Please contact [email protected] if special accommodation is required.

Cancellation Policy

Once you have registered and paid for this course you have six months to complete it. After six months, a monthly extension subscription may be purchased. Cancellations or extensions may be requested if there are extenuating circumstances disabling the student from taking the course for the entire six months. Requests may be initiated by emailing [email protected] or calling 814-944-3852.

Grievance Policy

All grievances must be in writing to [email protected], and will be replied to within 5 - 10 business days.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have access to the course?

You have access to this course for six months, even after you complete the course. After six months, you can purchase a monthly extension subscription for $15 per month by emailing [email protected].

Are there any prerequisites for this course?

Yes, The basis of this course is covered in two previous courses; IFS for EMDR Therapists (If you have little or no IFS background), and IFS-Informed EMDR (which integrates these two models based on prior knowledge of both). Please do not enroll in this course without completing the latter, as it relies on information you will have learned there.

How do I contact the school owner?

The owner/operator of can be reached by email at [email protected] or 1-814-944-3852.

Can I get IFS recertification CE's for this course?

Yes, when you apply for IFS recertification, send your CE certificate with your application to the IFS Institute.