Discovery is a term taken from Coherence Therapy (Unlocking the Emotional Brain , 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.