Children don’t purposely misbehave. They need our help learning how to work through their emotions and manage their behaviors.
~Dr. Denise Duval Tsioles PhD, LCSW
This needs to be every parent’s mantra, and we need to repeat it a million times a day.
Otherwise, we’ll continue feeling helpless or ineffective during difficult family situations.
Children’s difficult behavior will become the norm, and they will continue to struggle. For instance…
Elizabeth and Will were having constant issues with their little boy, Stephen.
They weren’t sure what else they could do.
Stephen hit another child on the playground, again.
All the other parents saw it, and you know all their eyes were on Elizabeth, as usual. She could hear them saying, “This is the third time this week and it’s also happening at school!”
Elizabeth was overwhelmed, and tried to hold back her tears.
Later Will asked, “Did you try what we talked about? What happened?”
“This sitting in the car taking a time-out isn’t doing anything. He keeps yelling and kicking in the back seat,” Elizabeth responded.
Will reassured his wife that it would be okay. When he got home from work, they would try to figure out what else to try.
“Just try to hang in there, for now,” Will encouraged.
Will, concerned for his family, searched for help.
Later that evening, after Stephen was asleep, Will told Elizabeth that while he was on train coming home, he researched for help.
Will found a child-specific therapist not too far from them. A therapist who focuses on kids and parents.
“Maybe we can just call them and explain our situation and see what they say. Their site says no obligation to discuss via phone.”
Elizabeth didn’t know what else to do. If Stephen’s behavior continued, the school would send him home, which would be a nightmare.
“We have to figure this out,” she said. “Let’s give them a call. I can’t deal with this anymore.”
Elizabeth sent a quick email with some available times, and she received a reply the next day to schedule a time to talk on the phone.
During the call, the therapist empathized with her obvious frustration and worries.
Elizabeth was reassured that her son was not destined to be a troublemaker.
She learned that this type of behavior can be common, and that some kids just feel and react in bigger ways than others.
It’s not an easy thing to deal with, and they just need the right kind of support.
Elizabeth knew she and Will had to learn how to help Stephen the right way to avoid future problems.
She immediately scheduled the first parental introductory session. She was confident that she found the child counseling specialist they needed.
At their scheduled session time, they were welcomed to the office by a compassionate, confident, and warm child therapist.
The room was a kid friendly, yet adult comfortable space. It was filled with color from the pictures on the wall and various art supplies and toys – cars, blocks, Playdoh, stuffed animals, games, a doll house, and a sand box were just some of the things that caught their eye.
They quickly felt at ease.
Their therapist took a genuine interest in learning about them as people, engaging in conversation around the family history, and getting an idea of who their son Stephen is and what had been going on for him.
There was no judgement.
Elizabeth and Will felt a sense of relief, just from having an opportunity to tell their story.
The therapist answered their questions and reassured them that they weren’t the first family to experience these issues, and they wouldn’t be the last.
Going forward in their work together, they will come to better understand certain things about Stephen, and he’ll also feel like he finally has control of some part of his life.
Stephen will be able to work through the “stuff” that’s behind the negative emotions and behavior.
By playing, talking out his worries, and practicing techniques, he’ll learn to handle the big feelings with the guidance of the therapist and the support of his parents.
Elizabeth and Will don’t feel so alone anymore.
A weight has been lifted from their shoulders. They walk out feeling much lighter, and good, about bringing Stephen in for the next session.
They’re motivated to keep working.
They understand they’re investing in their child’s long term emotional well-being, and they have committed to the process.
The Families We Help
Whether you’re dealing with a significant family problem like divorce, or if your child is angry, anxious, sad, easily frustrated, overwhelmed and hard to calm, aggressive, fearful, or demonstrates repetitive behaviors and self-doubt, you’re at the right place.
Our mission is to help children and parents confidently and successfully handle challenging life situations like divorce, child anxiety and child behavior issues. We also help expecting or new parents to prepare for parenthood and confidently handle or avoid the parenting challenges they are sure to face.
Our vision is to be the trusted advisor to families, providing them specialized support and solutions for life’s social-emotional issues. Through exceptional therapists focused solely on work with children and parents, we impart peace of mind for parents that their children are growing up to become kind and confident adults, unhindered by built up emotional issues.
Meet the Clinicians
Denise Duval Tsioles, PhD, LCSW
Founder & Clinical Director
How do we know what helps children thrive emotionally and behaviorally?
Well, besides having been in school forever (it’s a long academic road to earn a PhD and I have never fully left academia – I am also a college professor), I learned it from working with hundreds of children and parents in my 20+ years as a child psychotherapist.
I’ve worked with every type of parent and child issue imaginable, and I’m also a parent. I really get it…and I’ve been there, too.
When I had my child, I brought on therapists to work with me, and I took on the role of Clinical Director. I am very particular, and only chose therapists to join the practice who had similar training and experience to me, who I knew, or who were personally recommended to me by trusted colleagues.
They’re a very select and skilled group. I supervise them all. So, when you work with one of them, you get me, too.
University of Illinois at Chicago, M.S.W.
The Ohio State University, M.A., Psychology
Erikson Institute, Infant Mental Health Certificate Program
Cathedral Counseling Center, Clinical Fellowship
Teaching, Trainings, Publications and Presentations
- Development I: Infancy and Toddlerhood
- Development II: Early Childhood and Latency
- Development III: Adolescence and Young Adulthood
- Personality Disorders in Adults and Children
- Research Methods
- Quantitative Methods
- Dissertation Seminar I
- Advanced Research Seminar
- The Effects of Divorce on Young Children
- The Importance of Play
- Clinical Assessment of Social-Emotional Development in Young Children
- Positive Discipline and Guidance
- Assisting Young Children and Parents Adjust to Daycare
- The Importance of Consultation when Treating Trauma
- (2017). Psychoanalytic training experience and post-graduate professional development: A survey of six decades of graduate analysts part 2. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Volume 98, Issue 5, pages 1385-1410.
- (2014). Psychoanalytic training experience and post-graduate professional development: A survey of six decades of graduate analysts. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Volume 95, pages 1211–1233.
- (2013). The experience of remarried couples in blended families. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, Volume 54, Issue 1, pages 43-55.
- (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, Volume 30, Issue 5, pages 536-545.
- (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.
- Analytic Identity, Poster Presentations, American Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meetings, 2009, 2010
- Analytic Identity, Poster Presentation, International Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting, 2009
American Psychoanalytic Association
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AAPCSW)
- Raising More Successful Daughters.
- Fox News How Teens Can Positively Use Social Media.
- Fox News The Psychology of Selfies.
- Fox News Teens and Body Image.
- Fox News National Day of Unplugging: Families Putting Down Smartphones.
- Fox News Snapchat and Privacy Issues for Kids.
- Fox News How to Help Your Teen Deal with Trauma.
- Next Avenue PBS Online Media.
All of our therapists are highly skilled clinicians whose advanced training and clinical work has been solely focused on children and parents.
They all understand child developmental, adolescence, emotional and mental health, behavioral issues, social struggles, family relationships and problems, and parenting. They easily relate to children and truly get what it means to be a parent.
They really have the best job in world — playing with and talking to kids to help them feel confident, strong, resilient, and in control of their emotions and behaviors.
They support parents who really want the best for their kids and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Get to know them better…
Vicky Oliver, PhD, LCSW
Some kids are more sensitive and react to things in intense ways. That’s ok. They just need the adults around them to be understanding, help hold their feelings, and work with them to learn better ways to deal with their emotions.
For more than 25 years, I have amassed a wealth of child development and clinical knowledge and practical experience. Others describe me as easy going with a confident personality. I have focused on deciphering the meaning behind children’s behavior. I find useful ways for children, adolescents and parents to work through their problems and make long lasting change.
Institute for Clinical Social Work. Ph.D.
University Of Chicago M.A. in Social Work
George Williams College B.S.W.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Certification Training
Ruth Orme-Johnson, LCSW
Kids are more anxious, overwhelmed and stressed out than ever before. As parents, we want to help our kids, but sometimes we run out of ideas and patience and simply just do not know what to try next.
While there is no shortage of advice or opinions from other well meaning parents, family members or social media, often, none of it seems to fit or work for OUR kids.
Understanding a child or adolescent’s individual temperament, personality, relationships and different life experiences helps us determine why they are struggling with their emotions, behaviors, self-esteem and relationships. Then, we can work to find positive and healthy ways to deal with feelings, manage behaviors and have good relationships now and in the future.
I like to create a healthy, warm and nurturing environment for kids and work collaboratively with parents. We talk. We play. I will teach you and your kids how to express yourselves and share your thoughts and feelings and that it is ok to do so. Your children will gain a sense of confidence and power, which translates into a better ability to manage their emotions, behaviors and relationships.
Boston University, MSW
Northwestern University, BS in Education and Social Policy
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Illinois Association of School Social Workers (IASSW)
Tricia Sybesma, LCSW
It’s frustrating for parents, and scary and overwhelming for kids. They’re not actually trying to get something or manipulate parents by acting out. Their behavior is a natural reaction that shows us how they feel inside. Kids of all ages need the adults in their life to help contain their strong emotions, through patience and empathy. Adults should be “the calm” kids need to get their behavior back in control.
I have been described as a skilled, engaging and compassionate therapist. With more than 15 years devoted to working with families, I seek to give a voice to the experiences of children and adolescents by interpreting challenging behaviors into meaningful communications and assisting parents to help support their children through stressful transitions.
Erikson Institute, M.S.W.
Dordt College, B.S.W.
Parent Child Interaction Therapy Training
Zero to Three
Mallory Hilliard, LCSW, CADC
Kids speak with their actions and words. It is the job of adults to figure out what kids are trying to say and what they need from us.
By understanding kids’ temperament and personality, life experiences, family relationships and the ways in which they deal with anger, frustration and sadness, we can help make meaning of their behaviors and give them, as well as their parents, new ways to cope.
I have many years of experience working with children and teens with a variety of emotional and behavioral issues and supporting parents. I’m energetic, friendly, honest and straightforward in my work with both kids and parents. Parents are an important part of the process. My goal for families is to create positive connections with one another. When this positivity exists, it is easier to understand what kids need and how to help.
Loyola University Chicago, MSW
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, B.A.
Donna Quiroz, MSW, LSW
Having big feelings and uncontrollable behaviors is scary. They need their parents and other important adults in their life to help them manage their emotions and reactions by offering empathy, a sense of calm and patience, and a safe, protective space to work things out. Most parents have all the right intentions but are busy and tired and just don’t know what to do to help their kids. This can leave everyone feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and defeated and simply creates more unnecessary family stress.
In my work with kids and families, I strive to help kids and their parents learn more about themselves and what’s behind their emotions, as well as what motivates their behaviors and reactions. It’s my job to guide kids through the self-exploration process, offering my thoughts and ideas and looking for more adaptive ways of coping. With parents, the goal is helping to enhance their understanding of their child’s unique temperament and personality and finding the best ways to support their unique child’s healthy growth and development.
National Association of Social Workers
American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
Infant Massage USA
Emily Fernandez, LCSW, PhD Candidate
Some kids experience the world very deeply and their externalized behavior is a product of how they are feeling inside. Kids need adults to be their calm, gentle leaders to help make sense of their inner and outer world. Sometimes kids need adults to just hear them, not try to fix them.
I’m here to help! I have over eight years of experience working with kids dealing with big emotions, intense behaviors and with significant life stresses. I am a calm, empathic, intuitive and curious clinician who works collaboratively with children and parents to promote more understanding and deeper attachment.
Institute for Clinical Social Work, Doctoral PhD 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