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
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.
Brian Bauers started working in the field of addiction treatment in 2014, working in residential treatment as an intern for Choices in Recovery, and Alpha Project’s Casa Rafael. Brian was hired on at The Way Back as a Substance use disorder counselor and promoted to Director of Operations in April of 2019. Brian’s extensive knowledge of the Drug Medi-Cal organized delivery system has helped The Way Back Inc. marry the old social model framework with the new managed care model of the future, while increasing successful treatment outcomes for the clients The Way Back Inc. serves. “While my focus may be on compliance, and the operations of our facility, my goal is to create an atmosphere of recovery inclusive of all cultural, ethnic, social, and sexual identities. I believe that anyone has the ability and the right to recover from their substance use, and mental health disorders”.
Anthony graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and 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, as well as individuals with co-occurring (mental health and substance use) disorders. “I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with, learn from, and be mentored by amazing people throughout my career, as well as having the fortune to mentor incredible therapist and counselors. I have also had the privilege to be a part of numerous people’s journey in life toward a better future; assisting them in coping with their mental health and learning how to remain clean and sober.” Anthony incorporates a Narrative Therapy approach, with the mission of helping, “…people re-write, re-author their story in order to gain the power and understanding to write the next chapter in their life”.
Richard started working in the field of substance abuse treatment in 2014. He is an alumnus of The Way Back and was hired shortly after graduation to be maintenance and weekend staff. His desire to work more closely with clients prompted a promotion to evening SUD counselor. In 2019 he was promoted to Program Manager. “I have been clean and sober since 2014 and I’m attending San Diego City College majoring in Alcohol and other Drug Studies to further my knowledge about addiction and recovery.” He states, “I enjoy helping other men on their road to recovery.”
Ralph Ramirez began his internship in the field of addiction treatment in 2018 where he was quickly hired on staff as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor for Tradition One, a residential treatment facility. Ralph’s strong work ethic and unyielding passion for helping others throughout their recovery process was quickly recognized and was then offered a position here at The Way Back. Ralph was hired on at The Way Back as the Lead Substance Use Disorder Counselor and stated, “it a priority to put clients first so that they not only manage their addiction but thrive throughout their recovery.” Ralph brings a fresh new feel to the clients that stem from his youth as well as incorporating real life experiences that he brings in from growing up in the tough streets of Compton, CA. where drugs and alcohol still run rampant today. “I truly believe in more than just second chances. There is and will always be successes in failures in everyday life. One of my strongest lessons I bring to others going through tough situations in life, especially drug/alcohol addiction, is that we are not defined by our mistakes or failures but by our perseverance to push forward through all the pain and adversity that life throws our way.”
Austen started working in the field of addiction treatment in 2018. Austen battled addiction for over 15 years, being institutionalized in an out of rehabs; Austen is no stranger to the devastating consequences of drug and alcohol addiction. He had to experience and learn how to overcome this disease by getting the help he needed, accepting the help of others has been instrumental in his recovery. Being clean, sober, and healthy since 2016, Austen has the heart and desire to passionately help those struggling what he once was chained down by. As a counselor, Austen brings a refreshing sense of hope and knowledge through experience, strength, and hope to those who feel hopeless. Encouraging them that through resilience, there is a way back to living life with joy, addiction free.
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, he had begun his pursuit for further education alcohol and other drug studies at San Diego City college and became RADT certified. Aaron is an alumnus of The Way Back and started working here in 2021. Aaron believes that one of his strongest assets he can provide the residents is the empathy that he obtained from a long history of personal experience with the struggles of addiction. He has seen firsthand what alcoholism and addiction can do to not only his personal life but those close to him in his immediate family. Therefore, Aaron has chosen to shift direction from the mortgage industry to be of service helping to those in need of recovery. His role as a case manager here at The Way Back is a wonderful fit for the residents, as he is passionate about helping each one of them achieve their goals and establish a path to a brighter future.
Jeff Harrington joined the way back in 2021 as an Overnight SUD Counselor coming from a background in case management in the private sector. Having more than 7 years of sobriety and recovery himself, Jeff believes that every person with a drug or alcohol addiction has the potential to change their lives by a committing to a sober lifestyle through daily growth and reflection, and that a strong sense of community forms a solid foundation for a successful recovery process. Philosophically, he believes that understanding that change is constant, having the ability to meet people where they are, and maintaining compassion are key to helping each client on their individual path to recovery. He incorporates the practices of listening and remaining teachable into his own daily journey in recovery in both his personal and professional life.
James graduated from CSULB with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. During his education, and for 15 years following graduation, James worked in restaurants where his addiction to alcohol became severe; landing him in 2 inpatient rehabilitation facilities. In 2012, James found sobriety from his alcohol use disorder. James earned his Alcohol and Other Drug Studies (AODS) certificate from San Diego City College; and began working as an intern, which led to full-time employment at a Men’s inpatient drug and alcohol facility. James is certified as a SUD counselor and continues helping those who struggle with alcohol and other drugs. James stated, “I got into this career because I want to help recover from the destructiveness that alcohol played in my personal and professional life.” James came to the Way Back in 2021 and is grateful to be a member of The Way Back team.
Joseph Sternberg is a graduate of the San Diego City College Alcohol and Other Drugs Program and The Mental Health Program with a 4.0 GPA. Joseph is highly skilled in dealing with the criminogenic and cooccurring disorder backgrounds. Joseph is highly adaptable in his treatment methods using evidence-based practices such as MI, CBT, DBT, and SFT. Joseph will work with each client on his caseload to develop a highly individualized TX plan that will maximize the participants TX experience and help ensure a stable foundation is developed. Joseph is highly skilled in working with other care providers to ensure that the time spent at The Way Back is not only focused on the addiction but also life skills and other day to day issues that each client may be and or will be going through such as medical, legal, and family issues. Joseph truly loves his work, and it is evident in the TX he provides.