Jennifer Hannett, LCSW, RPT

Jennifer Hannett

Jennifer Hannett, LCSW, RPT

Jennifer Hannett is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with a Master's degree in Social Work from New York University. Jennifer is licensed as a clinical social worker in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia and is a board approved clinical supervisor in Virginia and Maryland.

Jennifer has greater than 20 years of experience working as a social worker and/or therapist with vulnerable children, adolescents, adults, families, and groups in multiple roles and settings, including: adoption, therapeutic foster care, adolescent residential treatment, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and CPS. Jennifer most recently served as the Director of the Virginia and Maryland offices of Children’s Home Society of MN, an international adoption agency.

Jennifer currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty member with The Catholic University of America (CUA) and Simmons University schools of social work. Jennifer works as a Team Leader and Psychotherapist with The Gil Institute for Trauma Recovery and Education and has received specialized training in Theraplay, expressive therapies (sand therapy and play therapy), trauma, attachment, and EMDR.

Jennifer practices an integrative, trauma-informed, and strength-based approach with children, adolescents, adults, families, and groups. Jennifer has a passion for guiding others to find their natural strength and ability to heal from difficult and traumatic experiences in order to live happier and more fulfilling lives.

Spotlight Questions


I was initially drawn to work at GITRE due to its excellent reputation for providing research-informed and trauma-focused treatment to children and families. I feel so honored to learn from Eliana Gil and her partners and to work alongside a team of experienced, talented, and highly skilled clinicians at GITRE. I appreciate the opportunity to provide trauma focused treatment with individuals of all ages, in addition to the ability to work with individuals, couples, families, and groups. GITRE has afforded me growth and expansion of my clinical toolbox and I feel blessed for the opportunity GITRE has provided me to aide in the healing process of children and families.

Clinical Experience

I have worked with vulnerable children, adolescents, adults, and families for 19 years in multiple roles and settings, including: adoption, therapeutic foster care, an adolescent boys residential treatment center, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatric inpatient hospital settings, and as a CPS investigator of child abuse and neglect. I have worked in the field of adoption for the past 13 years and most recently served as the Director of the Virginia and Maryland offices of Children's Home Society of MN, a private international adoption agency. I currently serve as an adjunct faculty member/course instructor and field liaison with the MSW program of Simmons University and the BSW and MSW programs of The Catholic University of America.

Special Interests

Adoption and foster care are a special interest of mine as I have worked in the field of adoption for the past 13 years and have thoroughly enjoyed training and preparing parents for older child and special needs adoptions, in addition to supporting and counseling families experiencing difficulties and challenges in their adoption adjustment. I love having the opportunity to continue to work with adoptive families at GITRE and I particularly enjoy incorporating attachment-based strategies while working with adoptive families to help strengthen the attachment bond between family members.

Theoretical Approaches that Guide and Inform My Work

My primary approach for working with children, adolescents, and their families is one that is holistic, client-centered and integrated. I incorporate play therapy, art therapy, sand therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) techniques into my work with children and their families. I additionally incorporate Theraplay and Circle of Security Parenting Program concepts and techniques into my work with families.

Sources of passion

I have true passion for helping others discover how to help themselves heal, grow, and thrive following challenging or traumatic experiences. I also have a passion for teaching, guiding, and supporting students in their learning and application of theory to clinical practice.

A little about me

I was born in New Jersey and lived in upstate New York and Pennsylvania before meeting my husband and moving to Northern Virginia 16 years ago. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband and three children. My hobbies include yoga, practicing meditation, hiking, biking, kayaking, painting, listening to music, traveling to new places, and experiencing different cultures. A few years ago I began running to support my son in his love for running and now enjoy running 5 K races with my 11 year old son. He is fast and motivates me-I still haven't caught up to him!

Spark Joys

My spark joys include visiting and appreciating the natural beauty of our national parks and other wonders of nature with my family and the moment when I know I have deeply connected with and helped another person.