Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 


What is PD SELF?

PD SELF (the Parkinson’s Disease Self Efficacy Learning Forum) is a national program of the Movement Disorders Foundation designed to provide people with Parkinson’s (PWPs) an in-depth understanding of the disease and self-efficacy tools to manage PD with confidence thereby improving the quality of their life. PD SELF was developed in 2013 by PWP Diane Cook and validated through a clinical trial sponsored by the Colorado Neurological Institute in Denver, CO.   The 2020-2021 season will be the seventh continuous year it has been given. It is now in 13 metropolitan areas.  


What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is a scientifically based approach that helps people with Parkinson’s develop the motivation, skills, and knowledge to manage PD.  Self-efficacy can be defined as the ability to have influence over the conditions that affect our lives.  


What do past participants say about the program?

 -- “Parkinson’s disease is a most powerful change and you can either run away from it or towards it. PD SELF helps you to embrace it!”

--- “Self-efficacy helps me to focus on what I can do in a realistic way rather than what I cannot do.”

-- “Jump in – both feet, full immersion. You will learn so much about yourself, your disease, and opportunities to thrive, even as you are better prepared for adversity.”

Who is eligible?

People with Parkinson’s disease (PWPs) and their care partner who:

  • Are newly diagnosed and within 3 years of diagnosis 

  • Can commit to attending a bi-weekly program over 4 months 

  • Have access to a computer or tablet with Wi-Fi


Those most likely to benefit from the program:

  • Enjoy learning and are interested in improving the quality of their life

  • Are able to actively engage in group activities and discussions

  • Can commit to attending at least 80% of the 8 sessions 

  • Have an email and the ability to conduct email correspondence 

  • Have no limiting co-morbidities (additional illnesses or conditions that might prevent full participation in the program)

How often and when does it meet?

The program has 9 sessions spread over 4 months. Each 2 hour virtual  group session will meet two times a month at a time agreed upon by the local facilitators  In addition, there will be small group meetings as a part of each session where participants will have an opportunity to meet with others in a small group discussion setting as we have found these to be the most effective in cementing the requisite behavioral adjustments that participants find most helpful.


How many people will attend each session? 


We are recruiting 30 to 40 newly diagnosed people with Parkinson’s and care partners (CPs) for each group.  Each will then function as a closed, cohort group.  This means the group will start and end together as a unit and no new members will be added, nor will guests (except for speakers) be generally permitted.  


Who delivers the program?

Debra Virtanen, a health care professional and Jud Eson, a person with Parkinson’s both trained in the application of self-efficacy for Parkinson’s

Is there a cost?

There is no cost to attend. 



These skills will be taught and practiced by participants throughout the course:

  • Journaling 
  • Goal setting

  • Self-monitoring

  • Language of Parkinson’s

  • Questioning

  • ​Reframing

  • Problem solving

  • Tenacity

  • Overcoming obstacles

  • Realistic optimism

  • Evaluating options

  • Managing negative emotions

  • Handling stress

  • Interpreting medical news

  • Resilience


The nine session topics (many taught by physicians or medical professionals): 

0. Introduction and use of technology used for program

  1. Adapting to Parkinson’s Disease

  2. Introduction to and Acquiring Self-Efficacy

  3. Creating Your Personal Health Care Network

  4. Benefiting from Exercise & Neuroplasticity

  5. Understanding PD Medications & Treatments

  6. Understanding Non-motor Symptoms

  7. Strengthening the Relationship Between PWP and Care Partner

  8. Research and Moving Forward

How do I apply?

Send an email to pdself.albany@gmail.com or contact Jud Eson (518) 281-3466 or Debra Virtanen (518) 527-0038. Please provide your name, address, and phone number, and a short explanation about why you are interested in the program. Your local co-facilitator will contact interested individuals and interview potential participants.  Please apply no later than October 1, 2020.

More questions?

Send an email to pdself.albany@gmail.com or contact Jud Eson (518) 281-3466 or Debra Virtanen (518) 527-0038.

Program locations:

Albany (NY), Colorado Springs (CO), Denver Central (CO), Denver South (CO), Detroit (MI), Evansville (IN), Hartford (CT), Houston (TX), Milwaukee (WI), Philadelphia (PA), Phoenix (AZ), Richmond (VA), Multi-regional program


This year the national organization has adapted the program to be fully online, as necessitated by the pandemic. 

Our parent organization, a national program of the Movement Disorders Foundation, has been busy modifying the program to better suit an online format. PD SELF will be presented with live ZOOM discussions, supplemented with asynchronous learning opportunities (“homework”). The virtual class will start with a short introductory module to help people get set up and familiar with Zoom and to meet each other. There will then be eight interactive modules, occurring about every other week. The asynchronous learning opportunities will consist of resource reviews, videos, questions about your beliefs and concerns, and a message board available for your use between live ZOOM meetings. 


As your PD Self trained facilitators, we are happy to speak to any of you before the first session, and at any time during the program.  The ZOOM meetings will be Wednesdays at 5PM on these dates:


10/14/2020, 10/21/2020, 11/4/2020, 11/18/2020, 12/2/2020, 12/16/2020, 1/6/2021, 1/20/2021, 2/3/2021


Please email either of us to confirm your participation. We hope to finish your enrollment and get to know you all very soon.

We really believe in the value and effectiveness of PD Self.  We continue to hear from previous years’ participants about how useful and helpful they continue to find the program to be.

All the best,

Debra Virtanen




Jud Eson



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We are in Albany, NY


518-281-3466 - Jud

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