Mary Susan Sams, Psy.D.
320 Tenth Street
Suite 302
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

CA License # PSY21421


Credentials & Qualifications

Caring for Kids and Families

The Process of Therapy


The Process of Therapy…

The course of therapy varies from child to child, family to family. Throughout the therapeutic process, children, teens, and parents are empowered with new knowledge, skills, and the confidence that you can create the changes that are so desired—together. We will explore areas of difficulty, as well as individual and family strength and resilience that become the foundation of sound solutions, renewed confidence, and healthy change.

Session time (50 minutes) is a tailored blend of individual child therapy, parent/child therapy, and parent consultation. Individual child sessions involve play therapy with younger children and/or talk therapy with older children and teens. During individual sessions, I guide your child in learning to: a) identify problem areas and concerns; b) talk about and make sense of them; and c) develop strategies to cope with and change what is uncomfortable or undesirable.

Parent/child sessions facilitate family communication, mutual understanding, and cooperative problem solving around challenging issues. Parent consultation creates extended discussion of concerns and progress, as well as support, guidance, and direction for parents.

 The Importance of Ending…

Always, therapy has a beginning, a middle, and an end . In the beginning (assessment phase), I gather information and create a portrait of overall development and history, the nature and extent of difficulties and challenges. The initial assessment is usually an interview with parents, but may include psychological testing to help clarify questions about learning and information processing, emotional and personality style, and diagnoses. The assessment yields an intervention plan, which guides the middle (active treatment) phase, during which goals are pursued and met. The active treatment phase varies widely among individuals. Whether over a period of weeks or months, progress and relief come as challenges are met with new insight, change strategies, coping skills, developmental supports, and more effective family communication. Then, attention is turned to completing the course of therapy. The ending occurs over several sessions during which progress is measured (and celebrated!), coping tools are reviewed and reinforced, and loose ends are tied up. Though we conclude our work on an identified problem, children and their families often return for “tune-ups” or “boosters” as different challenges emerge over time.

The Art & Science of
Child and Family Psychotherapy
A Guide to the Therapeutic Process
Mary Susan Sams, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Specializing in the Care of
Children, Teens, and Families
Questions or comments? Please e-mail