About Us

Child Therapy Chicago is a specialist counseling & psychotherapy practice in the Chicagoland area working exclusively with kids from toddlers through teens and parents.

We use play therapy and talk therapy to help young and older kids manage big emotions and behaviors like anxiety, sadness, fears, tantrums, aggression, school and social issues and feelings related to divorce.

Offices in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, Western Suburbs downtown Naperville and North Shore downtown Northbrook.

Our mission is to help children and families with difficult life situations. 

Our practice is dedicated exclusively to helping families, children and parents who are facing emotional, behavioral, relationship, family and school problems.

Unlike other local practices, we do not serve numerous types of clients. We focus on counseling for children (even very young ages), teens and families.

Email or call us today to discuss how we can help, or read our information for Prospective Clients and to schedule an initial appointment.

We are experts in:

  • helping children understand their experiences
  • helping children work through what troubles them
  • helping children with issues at school or with friends
  • helping children manage their behaviors
  • helping parents better understand their children
  • helping parents support their children
  • helping parents and children have better relationships
  • helping families through divorce and other events


Pictures and Office Information

Click Here for Info and Pictures of our Chicago Lakeview Location.

Click Here for Info and Pictures of our Naperville Downtown Location.

Click Here for Info and Pictures of our North Shore Northbrook Downtown Location.

Our Psychotherapists
The therapists at Child Therapy Chicago are very experienced in the areas of child development, child mental health and behavior problems, family issues, parent coaching, and parent-child relationships.

Dr. Denise Duval Tsioles, PhD, LCSW -- Founder of Child Therapy Chicago

Dr. Duval Tsioles is an expert in children's issues and behavior. She is a psychodynamically oriented child psychotherapist who founded Child Therapy Chicago, a private practice that focuses on understanding the meaning of children's behavior.

Dr. Duval Tsioles works with infants, toddlers and children, adolescents, young adults, parents and expecting couples‎‎. She has worked with children and families since 1994 as a clinician and researcher in child welfare, counseling agencies, educational institutions, and private practice.

Dr. Duval Tsioles has worked as a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, instructor, and researcher in a variety of settings including private practice, educational institutions, child welfare services, and community counseling agencies. She has experience working with behavioral problems, mood issues, emotional regulation, school problems, divorce, sleep difficulties, aggression, parent-child relationships, attachment and adoption, social skills, and parent coaching.

Dr. Duval Tsioles is also on faculty at the Institute for Clinical Social Work (ICSW) and Aurora University where she teaches and consults with doctoral students on their clinical cases and dissertations.  She also conducts trainings in early childhood mental health and development, is a practicing clinician, and is involved in several clinical research projects with other advanced clinical institutions. She is a published author, has presented at several conferences, and is a peer reviewer for a major clinical social work journal.

Courses Taught at ICSW and Aurora University:
  • CF 550: Development I: Infancy and Toddlerhood
  • CF 560: Development II: Early Childhood and Latency
  • RM 621: Quantitative Methods
  • RM 741: Dissertation Seminar I
  • ESRM 800: Advanced Research Seminar
  • SWK 6590 Advanced Clinical Social Work - Personality Disorders
  • SWK 6500 - Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology
Institute for Clinical Social Work, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago, M.S.W.
The Ohio State University, M.A.
Erikson Institute, Infant Mental Health Certificate Program
Cathedral Counseling Center, Clinical Fellowship

National Association of Social Workers
American Psychoanalytic Association
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AAPCSW)
(2006). Affect and Behavior Regulation Among Homeless Young Adults Formerly Involved with the Child Welfare System.
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal,Volume 26, Issue 2, pages 155-173.

Centralized Assessment of Early Developmental Delays for Children in Foster Care: A Program that Works, May 2008, Child and Family Services Review

Trainings on Clinical Assessment of Social-Emotional Development in Young Children, Positive Discipline and Guidance, and Assisting Young Children and Parents Adjust to Out-of-Home Care for the Professional Development Series at the Erikson Institute, 2007, 2008
Training on the Importance of Consultation when Treating Trauma for the Professional Enrichment Program at the Institute for Clinical Social Work, 2007
(2008). Evaluation of Services and Barriers to Delivery of Rehabilitative Services to Infants and Toddlers in the Custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Child and Family Services Review – May 2008, Volume 30, Issue 5, pages 536-545. http://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/cysrev/v30y2008i5p536-545.html

(2013). The Experience of Remarried Couples in Blended Families.
Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Volume 54, Issue 1, pages 43-55.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Training Experience and Post-Graduate Professional Development: A Survey of Six Decades of Graduate Analysts. International Journal of Psychoanalysis.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Training Experience and Post-Graduate Professional Development: A Survey of Six Decades of Graduate Analysts Part 2. International Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Analytic Identity, Poster Presentations, American Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting, 2009, 2010

Analytic Identity, Poster Presentation, International Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting, 2009

Peer Reviewer for the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

Dr. Vicky Oliver, PhD, LCSW 
-- Psychotherapist (Naperville)

Dr. Vicky Oliver is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience as a psychodynamically trained therapist. Dr. Oliver has expertise in the treatment of children, adolescents, and families with a wide range of issues including attachment difficulties, issues related to adoption, behavioral problems, ADHD, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and other problems.

Dr. Oliver also specializes in the treatment of trauma, such as physical and sexual abuse, witnessing violence or other traumatic experiences. She has completed the first phase of training to become certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), a method used to treat trauma.

Dr. Oliver’s experience includes working as a psychotherapist in a private practice, a residential setting for adolescents and an outpatient child and family therapy clinic. She was also the Director of an outpatient therapy clinic.

Institute for Clinical Social Work. Ph.D.
University Of Chicago M.A. in Social Work
George Williams College B.S.W.


Ruth Orme-Johnson, LCSW -- Psychotherapist (Chicago)

Ruth Orme-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose career has been dedicated to helping children and youth, as well as supporting parents. She has worked as a school social worker with kids ranging from pre-school through eighth grade. Her years in the educational environment have given her expertise in addressing and treating school-related concerns, including school refusal, bullying, academic anxiety, peer relationships, self-esteem and social skills building.

Ruth has significant experience working with children and teens who struggle with their behavior, anxiety, anger management, handling and expressing feelings, and with kids on the Autism spectrum. Ruth has also worked closely with children and adolescents who were exploring issues of gender and sexual identity. Further, Ruth has provided services to youth at workforce development agencies and trained students, parents and teachers in mindfulness and conflict resolution practices.

In therapy, Ruth works collaboratively with children and parents to create a healthy and nurturing environment that translates into healthy and nurturing relationships and the ability for kids to better manage their emotions and behaviors. Her work is psychodynamically informed and she is trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices and group relations theory.

Outside of her work at Child Therapy Chicago, Ruth is on the staff of a literary arts organization in Chicago that uses literature as a therapeutic tool for youth and young adults. She also serves as a clinical consultant to an ongoing research study through University of Illinois School of Public Health. 

Boston University, M.S.W.
Northwestern University, BS in Education and Social Policy

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Illinois Association of School Social Workers (IASSW)

Mallory Hilliard, LCSW, CADC -- Psychotherapist (Chicago)

Mallory Hilliard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 8 years of experience working with children, teens and families. She has worked with young children, school—aged children, and adolescents struggling with behavior problems, anxiety, depression, anger, ADHD, substance use disorders, parental separation and divorce.

She also has experience working with adoption related issues, children and adolescents diagnosed with a medical condition or chronic illness, and families who have been exposed to trauma, violence, loss or who have been impacted by parental substance use.

Mallory has solid knowledge of child development and attachment, emotional and behavioral health, parent support and parent coaching. She takes a Psychodynamic and Family Systems approach to working with families. She also provides Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT).

In addition to working at Child Therapy Chicago, Mallory provides outpatient therapy and conducts group therapy at a top children’s hospital with children and teenagers. 

Loyola University, M.S.W
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, B.A.

Donna Quiroz, MSW, LSW  -- Psychotherapist (Naperville)

Donna is a Licensed Social Worker with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Aurora University. She has several years experience working with very young children, grade schoolers, pre-teens and adolescents. 

She has extensive knowledge of child development and child and adolescent mental health and behaviors. Donna’s work with children and adolescents includes helping kids understand and manage feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, stress, anger, frustration, and sadness. She empowers kids to take control of their acting out, aggressive or anxious behaviors. She does this by developing a safe, trusting and comfortable therapeutic relationship where kids have an opportunity to talk and play out what’s behind their big feelings and behaviors in a calm and supportive space.

Donna is trained in psychodynamic talk and play therapy. She strives to help kids and parents learn more about themselves and what’s behind their emotions, as well as what motivates their behaviors and reactions. Donna guides kids through the self-exploration process offering insights, interpretations, and new, more adaptive coping skills. She works with parents to enhance their understanding of their child’s unique temperament and personality and helps parents find the best ways to support their child’s positive growth and development.

In addition to her work at Child Therapy Chicago, Donna works at an organization that provides high quality early childhood education, support for teens, and parent coaching.

Aurora University, M.S.W. 
University of Illinois at Chicago, BA Psychology

National Association of Social Workers
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
Infant Massage USA 

Emily Fernandez, LCSW, PhD Doctoral Candidate -- Psychotherapist (Chicago)

Emily Fernandez is a licensed clinical social worker and a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Clinical Social Work. Emily has a substantial amount of expertise in child and adolescent development and mental health. Her eight years of experience in the field has been dedicated to working with children and adolescents, as well as parents and families.

She has experience working with kids and families who struggle with developmental trauma, challenging transitions, major life stressors, bereavement/grief and loss, school and social struggles, identity development and self esteem, adoption issues, family disruptions, and co-parenting.

Emily understands that kids’ temperaments and earliest experiences influence their emotions and behaviors and help shape who they are. She believes that all kids communicate through their behaviors. Some kids experience the world very deeply and their externalized behaviors, anxieties, worries and fears are a product of how they are feeling inside.

Emily uses a psychodynamic and family systems lens to support kids to promote more self understanding by listening, observing, narrating, reflecting and interpreting their behavior, their feelings, their interactions, and their play. She is a calm, empathic, intuitive and curious clinician who works collaboratively with kids and parents to help promote deeper self understanding and an ability to manage emotions and behaviors in healthy ways.

Institute for Clinical Social Work, PhD Doctoral Candidate
Erikson Institute, MSW
University of Illinois at Chicago, BA
Cathedral Counseling Center, Clinical Fellowship

Zero to Three (early childhood development organization)
Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health


Debbie Sternecky, LSW, MSW, MSEd -- Psychotherapist (Northbrook) & Teletherapy

Debbie Sternecky is a Licensed Social Worker with a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University and a Master of Education degree from Northern Illinois University. Throughout her career, for over 30 years, Debbie has worked extensively with children, adolescents, and families from all cultural backgrounds while she taught in public schools.
Debbie has experience with a wide range of child and family issues, including emotional and behavioral struggles, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, grief and loss, divorce, twins and family dynamics, and academic concerns.

Debbie uses a strengths-based perspective to help children, adolescents and families learn how to apply their own positive attributes to overcome life’s challenges and obstacles. She helps kids and parents become aware of and work through the underlying causes behind big emotions and behaviors. She also helps them identify their thinking patterns and learn to reframe them to improve outcomes. Debbie strives to create a warm, comfortable, playful and safe environment where kids feel empowered and ready to achieve their goals.
Debbie is trained in Psychodynamic Talk Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and she also uses Play Therapy and Art Therapy.
Debbie is also a Disaster Mental Health volunteer with the American Red Cross.

George Williams College of Aurora University, M.S.W.
Northern Illinois University, M.S.Ed.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, BS in Business Administration

National Association of Social Workers
Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network


Ariel Carter, LPC - Psychotherapist (Chicago)
Ariel Carter is a Licensed Professional Counselor trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy. They hold a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling from the Institute for Clinical Social Work, where they studied psychodynamic psychotherapy, play therapy, child development, and infant mental health. They have provided therapy to young and school-age children, tweens, adolescents, and adults, as well as consultation to parents, teachers, and other mental health and wellness professionals. 
Ariel is passionate about advocating for children and helping them develop a healthy, confident and secure sense of themselves. Part of this process involves demystifying the communications that exist within everyday behaviors to make understanding these behaviors and connecting them to emotions easier. Ariel offers a balance of curiosity, exploration, and receptivity to help children and adolescents establish a sense of agency and well-being, to find more adaptive coping skills, and to help them find ways to grow and feel at home in the world. 
Ariel has worked previously in schools as an onsite clinical counselor with pre-school, elementary and middle school students, as an adolescent grief counselor, and with children and families in the LGBTQ+ communities. Ariel's clinical interests involve anxiety, emotional and self-regulation, social and school difficulties, attachment difficulties, grief and loss, depression, eating disorders, and self esteem and identity issues. 
Institute for Clinical Social Work, M.A. 
Ganesha Yoga, Certified Yoga Instructor 
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, BFA


Erik Larson, MA, LPC - Psychotherapist (Chicago and Northbrook)
Erik Larson is a Licensed Eligible Professional Counselor. He holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy from the Institute for Clinical Social Work, where he studied psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches to working with children, teens, parents and families.  

Erik has worked in a school setting observing and interacting with very young children ages 1 to 3, advising teachers on how they might best approach their work with these young children, taking into account their unique concerns and the complexity of their communications. He also worked with children, ages 4 to 12, building therapeutic relationships and dealing with behavioral issues as well as providing support for schools and consulting with teachers regarding these children’s social-emotional needs.

Erik also has experience with teens, young adults and parents dealing with issues related to anxiety, depression, school problems, isolation, somatic symptoms, histories of abuse, sibling rivalry and conflict between parents and children. Erik provides a safe space for young people to be able to share their feelings, process emotions and learn ways to cope with life stressors. Further, Erik listens for parents’ unique understanding of their child’s temperament and experiences as well as the larger context of those experiences through the family’s history.

Erik understands and values the depth that exists in the communications of children and adolescents and this has driven his long-held passion for psychodynamic thinking. When a child engages in play, whether or not they are producing speech, or when a teen shares feelings through abstract ideas and daily life stories, they are “speaking” to profound questions of worry, relationships, identity, self-worth, loss, trauma, and the individual ramifications of broader social inequities. In their therapeutic work, they then learn to understand and appreciate themselves, manage their emotions and behaviors using healthy coping skills and develop strong relationships.
Institute for Clinical Social Work, M.A. 
Fellow, Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis
Knox College, BA in Modern Languages and Linguistics