Our staff is specially trained to use the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) screening tool. The ASAM criteria is the most widely used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay and transfer/discharge of clients with substance use disorder and co-occurring conditions, and all staff at The Way Back have specialized training in conducting these screenings, as well as utilizing the evidenced based practice of Motivational Interviewing and Relapse Prevention.

 In addition to all of The Way Back’s counseling staff being registered with the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), we have licensed Marriage and Family Therapists on staff who provide Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy. These therapists train the counseling staff to use a strength-based approach to treat clients. The Way Back’s Medical Director oversees the medical component of treatment to ensure that all clients address physical or medical concerns while in a structured and safe environment

For ten years, Brian Bauers has been helping people address issues with substance abuse, mental health, criminal justice, family dynamics, and homelessness. As a graduate of The Way Back, Mr. Bauers has a long, deeply rooted history with The Way Back, which has helped lay the foundation for his excellent leadership. As the Executive Director, Mr. Bauers has played a vital role in successfully transitioning to the DMC-ODS and expanding The Way Back’s treatment capacity. Mr. Bauers has recently obtained his undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Counseling and is continuing his pursuit of dual Master’s degrees in Organizational Psychology and Health Care Administration. Mr. Bauers brings a deep knowledge of working with special populations, Drug Medi-Cal, and treatment and recovery center operations. Mr. Bauers has constantly advocated for much-needed treatment services and hopes to grow The Way Back to meet the needs of vulnerable San Diegans. 

“I am humbled by the opportunity to oversee The Way Back’s expansion efforts and provide leadership to the amazing staff of The Way Back. It is you who make this program so effective for the residents of San Diego.”

Board Certified Family Physician and Addiction Specialist with clinical and administrative/directorship experience.

I am passionate about providing an evidence-based and holistic approach to chronic care, preventative medicine, family planning, sexual health, mental health, sports medicine and urgent care issues. While I thrive in one-on-one patient interactions and build rapid, honest rapport, I have also found joy in working on the administrative side of medicine. The ability to lead teams, teach, problem solve and aim to reinvent systems to improve quality of services- are all challenges that I enjoy. Additionally, I am a Board-Certified Addiction Specialist with years of experience in detox/withdrawal management, Medication Assisted Treatment and working in the residential and clinical setting.

Anthony graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He completed his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at The California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), Alliant International University, in 2012. Anthony has extensive experience working with the forensic population and individuals with co-occurring (mental health and substance use) disorders. Anthony was hired in August of 2019 and incorporated a Narrative Therapy approach with the mission of helping people re-write and re-author their stories. This approach allows participants to gain the power and understanding to write the next chapter in their life. Anthony has assisted many participants in coping with their mental health and learning how to remain clean and sober. In addition to Anthony’s role at The Way Back, Anthony mentors and supervises associate (pre-licensed) therapists while assisting them in their development.

“I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with, learn from, and be mentored by amazing people throughout my career and have the fortune to mentor incredible therapists and counselors.”

Richard, another alumnus of The Way Back, was hired as a SUD counselor shortly after completing the program in August of 2014. Richard left San Diego in 2015 to be closer to his family but ultimately returned in 2017. Since his return, Richard has remained dedicated to the facility, staff, and participants and was promoted to program manager in 2018. During The Way Back’s transition from social model, Richard demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and helped ensure services to participants were not interrupted. Richard continues to be a role model and guides the counseling staff to provide our participants with the best possible treatment.

“My ultimate goal is to give other men the chance of recovery that was so freely given to me.”

After graduating from Intercoast College in 2019 with a certificate in AODS, Ralph began an internship with Tradition One in The city of San Diego. He began to teach others struggling with life’s challenges, especially substance abuse issues, that our mistakes do not characterize us, but our perseverance to push through that defines us. In September of 2019, Ralph was offered a full-time SUD counselor position with The Way Back, and a new chapter in his life began. Quickly recognizing his strong work ethic and unyielding passion for helping others, he was promoted to intake coordinator.

“I take great pride in being the first interaction these men have when being admitted to our program. I am committed to the men of The Way Back and strive to make a difference, one individual at a time. I truly believe in second chances.

Vince joined The Way Back in October of 2018 after completing the program. Vince’s alumni status gave him a unique opportunity to offer insights that helped The Way Back successfully transition from a strictly social model philosophy to the medical model we are today. Vince’s life experience and knowledge of addictive behaviors give him an exceptional ability to help participants find their way back to their authentic selves.

“I’ve been exactly where most of our clients are now and know their struggles. I have found my passion in life is to help suffering addicts recover from their addiction and mental health disorders. My goal is to become a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in Mental health”.

Aaron began this new chapter of his life in 2019, when he was hired as an SUD counselor at the Pathfinder residential program. At that time, Aaron began his educational journey at San Diego City College. Aaron enrolled in the Alcohol and Other Drug Studies program and is now a registered counselor with CCAPP. Aaron is an alumnus of The Way Back, and ultimately returned to The Way Back in May of 2021. Aaron believes that his long history and personal experience with addiction has given him the empathy needed to be effective when working with participants. He has seen firsthand what alcoholism and addiction can do, not only his personal life, but those close to him in his immediate family. It is these experiences that has brought Aaron into the service profession and helping those in need. Aaron could not be more suited for his role as The Way Back’s case manager. He is a wonderful fit, and his passion and dedication empowers the participants to achieve their goals and establish a path to a brighter future.

“Some of the biggest achievements in my life, have come from helping others achieve their goals.”

Jeff is an alumnus of The Way Back and was hired in January of 2022 as an overnight SUD counselor and maintenance person, and has since become the newest SUD Counselor at The Way Back. Jeff was inspired to enter the field of SUD treatment after overcoming his personal struggles with substance abuse. Before joining The Way Back, Jeff had 25 years of top diversified team-building experience with various business platforms. His experience with these platforms has taught him the value of teamwork and the importance of encouragement. When working with participants, Jeff uses a collaborative and holistic approach to treatment by identifying and addressing the causes of suffering that often lead to substance use and relapse.

“Freedom and truth must come from within.”

Growing up in a military family, Tia has learned to be comfortable with change and accept new challenges. Tia graduated from Chatham College in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy at the University of Phoenix in 2007. Tia has worked with court appointed juveniles and their families, individuals with acute mental illness, and individuals on parole and probation with severe and persistent mental illness. Her focus has been chronic mental illness and co-occurring disorders; however, she has worked with individuals experiencing substance use disorders. She began her role as Licensed Practitioner of the Healing Arts (LPHA). Tia utilizes an array of evidenced based practices, but most enjoys Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


“As an AMFT and LPHA at The Way Back San Diego, I not only get to do what I love and work with strong resilient individuals, but I also get to continue my learning along the way, it’s the best of both worlds – education and application. To watch someone actively take part in changing their thought process and behaviors is an amazing and worthwhile journey.”

James graduated from CSULB with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. During his education and 15 years following graduation, James worked in restaurants where his alcohol addiction became severe, landing him in 2 inpatient rehabilitation facilities. In 2012, James found sobriety from his alcohol use disorder, earned his Alcohol and Other Drug Studies (AODS) certificate from San Diego City College, and began working as an intern. James’s internship led to full-time employment at a Men’s inpatient treatment and recovery center. In March of 2021, James came to The Way Back as a certified SUD counselor and remains dedicated to helping those who struggle with alcohol and other drugs.

“I’ve discovered my purpose for being a counselor. I’m grateful to be a part of The Way Back’s team and the opportunity to continue helping those who can’t help themselves; find some peace.”

Joseph Sternberg, a former addict of 18 years, has endured, witnessed, and overcame the horrors of addiction. After losing his only brother during the fentanyl epidemic of 2015, he decided it was time to make some profound changes. Joseph believes that without the help and guidance from caring professionals, he would not have been able to turn his desire to change into reality. After his experience with treatment, Joseph knew that he wanted to help other men overcome their addictions. Joseph graduated from San Diego City College with a certificate in AODS and joined the team at The Way Back in January of 2020. Joseph has proven to be insightful, sensitive, and deeply compassionate when working with participants of The Way Back and has become an essential part of the agency’s mission.


“Recovery is not easy, but it can be done with the help of empathetic professional staff. Being able to meet with someone still suffering from the disease of addiction and showing them that they are worth caring for can change their lives forever. This is the reason I love what I get to do daily.”

Another alumnus of The Way Back, Jason’s particular life experiences and educational background bring a unique feature to The Way Back’s talented and diverse staff. Jason grew up in the Imperial Valley and moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University, and in 2008 he graduated with a B.S in Business Management. Jason possesses both book and street smarts, allowing him to connect with a hard-to-reach population. Jason strongly advocates having a balance in life, incorporating mind, body, and spirit in the recovery process, and models a good work ethic, integrity, and professionalism.

“I honestly believe everyone has the ability to become a better human being with a little encouragement and support.”

Craig Warren, lead chef, started working with The Way Back in November of 2019. Although Craig’s primary role is preparing meals for the participants of The Way Back, his passions extend well beyond the kitchen. Craig teaches participants the principles of recovery through sharing his experience with alcohol and drug abuse. Craig is dedicated and willing to help participants navigate their way through the early stages of the recovery process.

“I never knew my career would be so rewarding. The Way Back is a fantastic company to work for, and I look forward to many years of cooking and fulfilling my mission of helping other men find a new way of life.”