• Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Member of the National Association of Social Workers since 1998

  • Master's Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago/Jane Addams School of Social Work in 1994

  • Over 20 years experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and families

  • Specializes in anxiety, depression, stress management, complicated loss, self-injury and trauma. 

  • Please visit my profile on Psychologytoday.com and Helppro.com for more information.

  • Click here to email me.

​​Tonya Gilkerson, L.C.S.W.

Therapeutic Philosophy

My career has focused on helping adolescents and adults struggling through the expected and unexpected transitions in life.  Any transition can have a significant impact on an individual's life and can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression or anger.  My goal in therapy is to listen and work with you to reduce your negative feelings by identifying the emotional triggers causing these emotions. Through the utilization of a variety of therapy techniques including Cognitive-BehavioralPsychodynamic, Mindfulness, and E.M.D.R., we can create a personalized and easy to follow strategy. 

Background Information

During the past twenty years as a psychotherapist, I have helped children, teens, adults, couples and families work through anxiety, depression, anger, grief, panic attacks, self-harm, poor communication skills and poor problem solving. I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including schools, police departments, shelters, private homes and offices. 

I started my career working at a domestic violence shelter in DuPage County where I learned how the cycle of violence can dramatically impact the individuals living within the family unit. Abuse and violence in any form is damaging to a child's and adult's ability to develop trust due to the fear they suffer everyday. Many abusive families develop unhealthy patterns of communication and problem solving. During my time at the shelter I provided group, family and individual therapy and psychoeducation to halt the patterns of violence and create more effective problem solving skills.

At the Davis Center for Emotional Development I worked directly with the Department of Children and Family Services providing therapy to couples accused of abuse and neglect. This enabled me to attain a better understanding of the complex issues occurring between a husband and wife. Through this experience I learned the importance of developing and maintaining a neutral relationship with the couple so each person can be 

heard, connected and supported during the therapeutic process. This is the key toward rebuilding the components of a successful marriage.  

At The Community House in Hinsdale, Illinois I provided crisis intervention services to teens and their families at the local police departments through the M.A.R.I. (Minors Requiring Authoritative Intervention) program. These families were caught in the distress associated with the power struggle between parents and their teens. Many times these conflicts can be complicated by an adolescent's poor self-esteem, poor school involvement or self-injury. Following the initial crisis I provided ongoing individual and family therapy to assist in healing the wounds caused by their differences and worked with the family to establish a new and stable parenting structure to improve trust between parents and their teen children.

In private practice I continue to provide therapy to adolescents, adults, couples and families impacted by the difficult experiences including life transitions, work stress, self-injury, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or marital strife. During the past ten years I have incorporated the use of trauma theory therapeutic techniques developed by Basil Van Der Kolk, John Briere, Kathleen Shapiro, Daniel Siegel and Jon Kabat-Zinn. These are on the cutting edge within the field of social work and have been proven to be effective in case studies. My use of the these techniques have enabled my clients to dramatically reduce their stress, panic and depression in a shorter time while improving their esteem.  

As a therapist it is very rewarding to know I have helped an individual to recover from their losses, rebuild their relationships or heal from depression. Seeing an individual make advances toward their interpersonal goals, gives me the drive to continue my work and explore the new techniques in the field of social work. 

Thank you for taking time today from your busy schedule to learn about my practice and career. I look forward to meeting you, learning about you and exploring ways to help you achieve your personal growth.