Meet the Trainer: Olita Day-Berger

Olita Day-Berger, LCSW-R, is a certified cognitive therapist and an expert on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) training. She brings 30 years of experience to the field of social work and behavioral health, having worked in the child welfare system, the hospital system, and her own independent practice. She currently is a member of The Network Alumni Training Board and the Trainers Hub, as well as an instructor for BUSSW’s Online MSW Program. 

Olita helped develop and teaches The Network’s Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions Certificate Program. We spoke with her about her experience developing CBT training that is responsive to communities’ individual needs. 

Tell us a bit about your professional background and what led you to a specialization in CBT. 

I have a 30-year career as a clinical social worker. Over time, I experienced a certain frustration that my clients were not improving on a functional timeline. I started exploring brief treatments that would be more focused on a recovery-oriented outcome and discovered that CBT really stimulates that process. 

CBT focuses on specific problems with corresponding treatment plans that are motivating and activating. My passion has been to disseminate CBT into social work best practices and implement it in mental health organizations where practitioners are reaching marginalized populations that have been distrustful of psychotherapy in general. CBT can be customized to meet specific community population needs.

How did you and the team develop The Network’s CBT certificate? 

We took the essential components of CBT concepts and used the gold standard of assessments – the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale. The scale has 11 items which we use to rate the trainees’ level of understanding throughout the course. This culminates in a final project where they’re assessed on these necessary pieces to deliver quality CBT that meets a standard. We also teach practical skills right in the live classroom. Participants are assigned partners to do practice sessions, record them, and those are then graded against the scale.

We designed the course in a way that mimics what actual CBT sessions are like. It emphasizes collaboration between learners and trainers. We’re all collaborating to develop new ways of meeting community needs through active listening and reflection. 

Who would benefit most from taking the online CBT certificate?

We’ve enjoyed welcoming a variety of professional program participants with diverse clinical backgrounds within the social service field, ranging from behavioral, medical, hospice, academic, case management and pastoral care.  Most have been working in the field of human services for a number of years and are motivated to expand their knowledge base with CBT certification to improve patient experiences. Several participants shared they have taken numerous CBT workshops over the years and been incorporating CBT into their practice  without the benefit of formal training or learning foundational skills as taught and practiced in this course  After completing the course they have shared appreciation for the collaborative CBT approach and gained an understanding of how the behavioral aspects intersect with the cognitive interventions.  

You’re also a member of the Trainers Hub and collaborated in the development of the new Train-the-Trainer Certificate program. What do you feel are the benefits of joining this new training program and community? 

Developing the Train-the-Trainer Program was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the needs of organizations and trainers. Piloting the training itself was rewarding, because it opened my eyes to how I can improve on my own training. When you’re doing it independently, it’s like being in a silo and you don’t get the input from colleagues that are training on different topics. Working with other trainers helps standardize the quality of training and I think that makes an important difference. 

Based on your years of experience, do you have any advice for social work professionals who might be interested in sharing their training expertise and joining the Trainers Hub? 

The Trainers Hub is really open to new ideas and talent that can deliver quality training on interesting topics. I think by relying on the Trainers Hub members and all that valuable expertise, we can share problems that we’ve encountered in training and learn from each other on how to improve training quality. I also think standardizing training for trainers hasn’t really been offered before. We’re using a well-researched standard to support and develop new trainers.

Learn more about the Trainers Hub.