A photo of Sara Williams.

Pediatric Psychologist, Clinical, Behavioral Medicine & Clinical Psychology

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


"In my practice, I use a patient-centered approach that helps children understand their pain condition and learn strategies to help them become independent and functional."

My Biography & Research


As a pediatric pain psychologist, I specialize in the assessment and treatment of pediatric chronic pain. I help outpatients with pain management and inpatients with chronic pain rehabilitation. I am the clinical director of the Functional Independence Restoration Program, and I also practice as a pain psychologist in the Headache Center and Pain Management Clinic.

I was inspired to be a pediatric psychologist when I volunteered in a children's hospital playroom as a college undergraduate and realized how many fun and unique ways there are to support children undergoing medical treatment.

In my practice, I use a patient-centered approach that helps children understand their pain condition and learn strategies to help them become independent and functional. I find that my patients and their families appreciate my balance of calmness with humor.

In addition to my practice, I love teaching our residents and fellows about psychology. I was honored to receive the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology’s Teaching Award in 2017. I’m also involved in research into how to improve pain management techniques for children, teens and their families.

When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my pets, traveling and writing books!

Clinical Interests

Pediatric chronic pain; pediatric psychology; cognitive behavioral therapy

Research Interests

Psychosocial factors affecting pediatric chronic pain; parent-child interaction


Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Behavioral Medicine, Pain Management, Headache Medicine

Research Divisions

Clinical Psychology

My Locations

My Education

PhD: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, 2007.

Internship: University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 2006-2007.

Fellowship: Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2008-2010.

Certification: Licensed Clinical Psychologist.

My Publications

Transient Reductions in Postoperative Pain and Anxiety using Virtual Reality in Children. Olbrecht, VA; O'Conor, KT; Williams, SE; Boehmer, CO; Marchant, GW; Glynn, SM; Geisler, KJ; Pickerill, HM; Ding, L; Yang, G; et al. Pain Medicine. 2021.

A novel behavioral health program for family caregivers of children admitted to a transitional chronic ventilator unit. Borschuk, AP; Williams, SE; McClure, JM; Kendall, M; Mack, L; Coleman, M; Gurbani, N; Benscoter, D; Amin, R; Stark, LJ. Pediatric Pulmonology. 2021; 56:1635-1643.

Improvements in Sleep Correlate With Improvements in Clinical Outcomes Among Adolescents Undergoing Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Treatment. Boggero, IA; Krietsch, KN; Pickerill, HM; Byars, KC; Homan, KJ; Williams, SE; King, CD. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2021; 37:443-453.

Leveraging Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to Combat Chronic Pain in Youth: Position Paper From the Interdisciplinary Network on Virtual and Augmented Technologies for Pain Management. Logan, DE; Simons, LE; Caruso, TJ; Gold, JI; Greenleaf, W; Griffin, A; King, CD; Menendez, M; Olbrecht, VA; Rodriguez, S; et al. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2021; 23.

Randomized clinical trial of Fibromyalgia Integrative Training (FIT teens) for adolescents with juvenile fibromyalgia - Study design and protocol. Kashikar-Zuck, S; Briggs, MS; Bout-Tabaku, S; Connelly, M; Daffin, M; Guite, J; Ittenbach, R; Logan, DE; Lynch-Jordan, AM; Myer, GD; et al. Controlled Clinical Trials. 2021; 103.

Sleep among Youth with Severely Disabling Chronic Pain: Before, during, and after Inpatient Intensive Interdisciplinary Pain Treatment. Krietsch, KN; Beebe, DW; King, C; Homan, KJ; Williams, SE. Children. 2021; 8.

Preliminary Evidence for the Fibromyalgia Integrative Training Program (FIT Teens) Improving Strength and Movement Biomechanics in Juvenile Fibromyalgia: Secondary Analysis and Results from a Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial. Black, WR; Dicesare, CA; Thomas, S; Pfeiffer, M; Williams, SE; Kitchen, K; Ting, TV; Myer, GD; Kashikar-Zuck, S. Clinical Journal of Pain. 2021; 37:51-60.

Guided relaxation-based virtual reality versus distraction-based virtual reality or passive control for postoperative pain management in children and adolescents undergoing Nuss repair of pectus excavatum: protocol for a prospective, randomised, controlled trial (FOREVR Peds trial). Olbrecht, VA; Williams, SE; O'Conor, KT; Boehmer, CO; Marchant, GW; Glynn, SM; Geisler, KJ; Ding, L; Yang, G; King, CD. BMJ Open. 2020; 10.

Dream It! Preliminary Evidence for an Educational Tool to Increase Children’s Optimistic Thinking. Jacquez, F; Trott, CD; Wren, AR; Ashraf, LJ; Williams, SE. Child and Youth Care Forum. 2020; 49:877-892.

The role of pain rehabilitation in an adolescent sickle cell disease population: a case series. Collins, AB; McTate-Acosta, EA; Williams, SE. Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. 2020; 37:637-644.