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How do you get rid of a fear of birds?

People who are not affected by this can hardly imagine it. A fear of birds is indeed a real fear, which can have a major impact on your life. It can even cause a person to close himself off from the outside world. For example, if you have a fear of pigeons, it becomes very difficult to live in a big city, where pigeons are often present. Taking the children to a petting zoo to feed the ducks bread is out of the question with a phobia of ducks. In short, a phobia of birds is difficult to live with and professional help is needed to get rid of it.

What is a phobia of birds?

When you have a great fear of birds, it is literally birds that you may encounter outdoors. This is what makes this phobia so obstructive. When you walk outside, it is almost impossible to avoid birds. Even though you may not come into contact with birds at all, the fact that you see them can make you anxious. The fear of birds has an official name: ornithophobia. Incidentally, this fear does not only relate to birds that you meet in person. An image, sound and smell of birds can also be enough to make you feel anxious.

fear of birds

What are the symptoms of bird fear?

When confronted with birds, various symptoms may arise. These are mainly physical. There may be a reaction, which often occurs in cases of great anxiety and panic, such as sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and dry mouth. In severe cases, a panic attack may follow, during which you are no longer able to react normally. There are, of course, various degrees of fear. If you find birds scary, but you do go out into the street, then it is easily manageable and has little impact on your daily life. It is different if the fear is so great that you do not even want to leave your house. You then need help to treat this phobia.

What are the causes?

There is still a lot that is unknown about bird phobias. Sometimes it can be a general phobia of birds, being afraid of all kinds of birds, and sometimes it can be a phobia of specific birds, such as a phobia of ducks or a fear of pigeons or only birds of prey. The exact causes are also unknown. It can be established that such a fear comes from a negative experience with birds, but also from hearsay. If you were told scary stories about birds as a child, you will quickly develop a fear of birds. Scientific studies have shown that many people's fears go back to their childhood. A traumatic experience or hereditary predisposition can also be a trigger for a fear of birds.

treatment against ornithophobia

Treatment for ornithophobia

Various treatments are available to combat a phobia. Which treatment should be chosen depends mainly on the cause. If the cause is unknown, behavioural therapy is often used. If the cause is demonstrably a trauma, EMDR is usually chosen.

Behavioural therapy

There are various forms of behavioural therapy that could help with this phobia, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or systematic desensitisation. A combination with relaxation therapy is also possible. In behavioural therapy, the treatment focuses mainly on changing behaviour, converting negative thoughts into positive ones. Your behaviour will then follow automatically and you will be able to get rid of your phobia.
Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is generally considered to be very successful against fears and phobias. Central to exposure therapy is exposure to the fear. In this case, you are actually exposed to birds. By repeating this at each treatment session, you will eventually get used to birds and see that nothing bad will happen. Of course, exposure is done under the supervision of a professional practitioner.


EMDR is only suitable as a treatment if you are certain that the bird phobia was caused by a traumatic experience. During the treatment you have to think about the trauma and recall all feelings and thoughts about it. During this moment you are distracted by means of a hand gesture by the therapist or a sound signal. By repeating this, it will become easier to think back to the trauma and there will be less emotions involved. When the trauma has been processed, additional effects, such as the phobia of birds, will also have disappeared.

Psylaris makes overcoming fear of birds easier

Overcoming fear of birds is even easier if you use the products developed by Psylaris during treatment. For example, the VR products of Psylaris can be used in exposure therapy. By putting on the VR glasses, the client comes into direct contact with birds. This may be scary, but it happens in a safe environment and as the practitioner you are in control.

Does a trauma need to be processed by means of EMDR in order to get rid of the phobia? Psylaris has developed the online platform EMDR-Remote, which allows the client to be treated from home behind a PC or laptop. The platform offers, among other things, video calling through a stable system and many possibilities for the practitioner to use distraction tasks digitally. There is no need to install anything for this, just log in via the web browser.


Exposure in virtual reality

The goal of Psylaris is to support therapists even better with innovative techniques and tools. Virtual reality plays a leading role in this. With EMDR-VR and EMDR-plus an EMDR treatment is possible using virtual reality. The practitioner can use distraction tasks even better and the client can also be treated remotely. Virtual reality is ideally suited for exposure therapy. The client is confronted with his/her fears. It is no longer necessary to visit a physical location, such as an elevator in case of elevator fear or a shopping mall in case of agoraphobia. With the VR glasses on, the client is confronted with the fear in the safe environment of the treatment room or his/her home. Psylaris has developed modules for various types of fears that require exposure therapy. This saves costs and time, and the client can be treated more frequently, which results in a faster recovery.

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