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 newly diagnosed people with Parkinson’s 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 Diane Cook and validated through a clinical trial sponsored by the Colorado Neurological Institute in Denver, CO. The 2021-2022 season will be the eighth continuous year it has been given. It is now in 13 metropolitan areas.  

What is Self-Efficacy?  Read more.

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 partners 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 all of the 9 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 starting Wednesday, September 1, 2021 at 5 PM. 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.

The meeting dates for the sessions will be:

  • Wednesday, September 1 at 5 PM.

  • Tuesday, September 14 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, September 29 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, October 13  at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, October 27 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, November 10 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, December 1 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, December 15 at 5 PM.

  • Wednesday, January 12 at 5 PM.

How many people will attend each session? 

We are recruiting 25 newly diagnosed people with Parkinson’s and care partners (CPs) for the Albany based group.  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 with help from Nancy Eson, a care partner of a person with Parkinson's.

Is there a cost?

There is no cost to attend. 

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

Equipment Needed:

Minimum requirements:
Computer (PC, Mac, or iPad) with Internet, built-in camera or webcam, microphone, speakers, or headphones
Bandwidth: 2.0 Mbps up and down

Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.10 and higher or Windows 7 and higher

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.We will contact interested individuals and interview potential participants. 

More questions?

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

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.