Sheila Silver is a consultant in the area of sex and intimacy to people with Parkinson’s Disease and others. Dr. Silver has a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy and a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She was a psychotherapist in private practice for many years, and has specialized education and training in the area of human sexuality. Dr. Silver has presented at numerous national conferences and to general audiences on the topics of human sexuality, and how to maintain emotional and physical intimacy throughout the aging process, particularly for those with Parkinson’s Disease. In her private practice, she offers a highly personalized approach in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, tailored to her client's individual needs to help attain the goals they’re striving for.
Dr. Silver got involved with Parkinson's patients in 2012, when she was asked to speak at the Early Onset Parkinson’s Symposium at OHSU. She says “At the time I knew nothing about PD, but I knew a lot about what often gets in the way for couples around adapting their sexual relationship to the demands of work, kids, aging, and health issues. I had been teaching couples for years about the importance of focusing on connection and pleasure, rather than on sexual functioning or a particular goal. Since then I have been asked many times to speak at events for people with PD on how to create and keep emotional and physical intimacy in their relationships. I have also trained doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers about how to look at patients with PD in a more holistic way, remembering that their sexuality is an important aspect to their health and wellbeing.”
She adds “I love this population because people with PD (and their partners) seem to have a deeper appreciation that every day is precious. People with PD are genuinely looking for ways to be more connected and more in love, and are willing to look at sexuality in a broader way. They are receptive to thinking“outside the box” and this creates so much more possibility for them in terms of creating a good sexual experience. People with PD are very appreciative of a way to look at sex more broadly that is more inclusive of what they are capable of. It inspires them to dialogue with their partners, and renew their physical intimacy in a way that works for them. That is very gratifying to me.”
Dr. Silver concludes: "What I most want people with PD to know is that expanding their definition of "sex" allows for greater freedom and connection with their partner. Letting go of expectations of self and partner creates the opportunity for a collaborative and creative experience that can be satisfying to both of them. It requires verbal communication and being present with oneself moment to moment, not getting distracted by what they used to do, or think their partner is expecting. Instead, they need to stay in touch with themselves, communicating what sounds good and being open to wherever that may lead."