Social Workers

Brittany Hill, MS, MSW, LCSW, DT

Director of Social Work Services


Brittany is a licensed clinical social worker who enjoys helping children meet their individual needs while also supporting the caregivers. Brittany earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She attended graduate school at Loyola University Chicago and Erikson Institute, earning her Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Child Development. Brittany’s experiences include working with children with generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, intellectual giftedness, and global developmental delays. Brittany also specializes in potty training and supporting children with toileting difficulties. She has a passion for developing meaningful relationships and strengthening the caregiver-child relationship. Brittany enjoys the collaborative and supportive nature of the PlayWorks Therapy, Inc. team. She loves helping children reach their fullest potential while celebrating each success along the way.

Outside of work, Brittany enjoys listening to music, playing volleyball, visiting with her large WI family, and snuggling up with her kitty cat.

Melissa Svec, MSW, LSW

Melissa Svec

Melissa is a licensed social worker who is passionate about establishing solid therapeutic foundations that both children and families can prosper and grow on. Melissa is a Chicagoan born and raised who traveled to the wonderful cornfields of Iowa for both undergrad and graduate school where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Social Work from Saint Ambrose University.

Some of Melissa’s experiences include working with kids and families affected by a cancer diagnosis and utilizing trauma-informed care while working with children. Melissa believes every child and family is the expert of their own situation and as the social worker she is there to shed light on and enhance already existing strengths and gifts within each individual. As a therapeutic professional, Melissa loves interdisciplinary work and thinks there is so much to learn from other professionals who share a common goal of helping children and families. She is excited about the range of care provided at PlayWorks Therapy, Inc. and cannot wait to grow as a clinician alongside such passionate and driven individuals.

In her free time, Melissa loves traveling to new places with friends, watching The Office, listening to true-crime podcasts and spending time with her incredible family.

Elizabeth Gilbert, MSW, LSW

PlayWorks Prep Lead Social Worker

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth is a licensed social worker with a passion for working with children and their families to promote positive growth and development, social-emotional wellness, and mental health.

Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Kansas with a minor in behavioral science. Elizabeth worked as a preschool aide for four years during her time at the University of Kansas, and through this experience Elizabeth developed a passion for working with children while promoting emotional regulation, self-esteem, and coping skills in the classroom.

Elizabeth moved from Kansas City to Chicago to pursue her Master of Social Work from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. During her graduate career Elizabeth gained clinical experience providing school-based therapeutic services to elementary aged students. Elizabeth gained experience and developed skills in trauma-focused therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, and social-emotional learning curricula. She has also provided comprehensives services and support for children and their caregivers involved in the foster care system, including individual and group therapy, caregiver support, psycho-education and advocacy. Elizabeth is also pursuing certification as a trauma-informed children’s yoga teacher.

Elizabeth believes in empowering children and families in developing common goals and providing support and strategies for promoting positive development and growth. She practices with a special focus on building relationships, creating routines, and promoting positive self-concept through a strengths-based and family-centered approach. Elizabeth loves incorporating play, mindfulness, yoga, movement, and art into therapeutic interventions.

Elizabeth enjoys running, reading, and baking for her family and friends. In her spare time, you can find Elizabeth exploring new coffee shops and restaurants through-out the city of Chicago!

Clare Thoele, MSW

Clare Thoele

Clare is a social worker who is dedicated to helping kids and their families build resilience and grow together to reach their full potential. Clare grew up in the Roscoe Village neighborhood in Chicago and is happy to be back in the area at PlayWorks! Clare graduated from Scripps College in California with a major in media studies and a minor in theater. She has studied and performed improv at Second City, iO and The Annoyance in Chicago following graduation. While pursuing theater, Clare worked as a nanny and a daycare aide and is excited to use her childcare skills in her work as a pediatric social worker. Clare received her Master’s of Social Work from DePaul University in Chicago and is looking forward to employing her community practice focus at PlayWorks to empower kids and their families/caretakers.

Clare has a particular interest in helping children and their families work together to heal and build resilience when tackling behavior, emotions, regulation, and medical difficulties. Believing that a mental or physical health diagnosis is an opportunity for a family to grow and support one another, Clare utilizes a strengths-based, trauma-informed approach to her work with children. Clare loves to incorporate acting and play into her work and is excited to use these techniques to help build confidence, mastery, and strength in the kids and families she works with.

When not working, Clare loves going for long walks along the lakefront while listening to history podcasts. At home, you can find her hanging out with her two one-eyed cats, chatting with her friends and family, and tending to her extensive houseplant collection.

Emmary Smith, MSW

Emme Smith

Emme is a social worker who enjoys working alongside children and their families to create a positive parent-child relationship and support social-emotional skill growth! Emme grew up just across the lake in Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan.

Emme has prior experience working in preschools and daycares and greatly values the relationships she was able to form with her kids while witnessing their continued growth! During her graduate internship, Emme gained experience in working with diverse families, juvenile justice involved youth, and a number of mental health diagnoses, including PTSD, ADHD, and conduct disorders. Emme is passionate about meeting kids where they’re at and working collaboratively with their caretakers in order to provide the most supportive environment for the child’s success. She is excited to be part of such a wonderful, interdisciplinary team that honors the holistic view of each child. Emme also believes that relationships are key to a child’s development and as such is interested in continuing to explore and strengthen those important relationships in a child’s life!

Outside of work, Emme enjoys reading, spending time by Lake Michigan, trying out new restaurants, and yoga. She is excited to be living in Chicago and explore all the city has to offer!