Dominick R. Nicotera, licensed mental health practitioner, is founder and executive director of DRN Counseling and Consulting Services in Utica. DRN Counseling focuses on teaching effective ways of coping with life’s challenges through various forms of therapy, including one-on-one therapy, family counseling, group counseling, addiction counseling, veteran counseling, and mentorship.
By Barbara Pierce
Q.: What is the mission of DRN Counseling and Consulting Services?
A.: Our mission is to support, enrich, and guide individuals, or families, as they deal with major life challenges. With over 40 licensed mental health counselors and providers on our team, we rapidly connect individuals and families in Central New York with qualified mobile counselors.
We meet you where you are at and work with you to help get to where you want to be. We primarily see people in their own homes.
All of our counselors are licensed mental health counselors or licensed clinical social workers.
Q.: What do you do at DRN Counseling and Consulting Services?
A.: We provide one-on-one counseling to help you return to an active, productive life, helping you manage your life in healthier ways. We offer family counseling, often seeing families in their own home, and help families understand each other and solve family problems. And we also offer group counseling, a wonderful way to give and receive support and find ways to overcome what you’re struggling with. Our substance abuse counselors specialize in working with people to help them overcome their dependence on substances.
The things we’re doing here are amazing: We counsel with vets, focusing on their special needs; we’re approved to do DWI OASAS (Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services) assessments; we have a nurse practitioner on staff; we help people on probation or parole, those in the rescue mission and the women’s shelter.
Also, we have a mentorship program — a team of counselors help young people figure out what to achieve and give them the support to get there.
I’m proud of everything I’m doing in my private practice.
Q.: How did you get into this career?
A.: When I got out of college, my career started in Syracuse. I worked at a number of jobs there, including working in a law office and doing court work.
I was always open to working with young people. I coached a basketball camp and was athletic director at a high school. Then I took a job at Elmcrest Children’s Center where I did in-home therapy with families.
While working at Elmcrest, I earned my Master of Social Work degree. I was promoted to supervisor there, where I gained valuable experience in administration and employee development.
I found I had I knack for working with young people; they trusted me. Plus, my background in athletics in college helped. I was able to develop good relationships with kids — they liked me.
As Utica is my hometown, I moved back here and continued to work with young people in a number of community organizations. I was one of the first social workers at an alternative high school here. Then I became executive director of the YMCA. When it closed, I opened the Pioneer Fitness Center. I was proud that, with our programs and services at Pioneer Fitness Center, we filled the large gap left by the closing of the YMCA.
I’ve also taught psychology at Pratt School of Art and Mohawk Valley Community College.
When you go into social work, you’re warned: “Don’t expect to make money.” We put that myth to rest. Our subcontractors get paid well. We have our own software and do our own billing and coding. We have expertise with insurance companies.
DRN Counseling and Consulting works with many local businesses, offering our expertise in working with insurance companies to others.
Q.: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you or DRN Counseling?
A.: I am a proud U.S. Army veteran and DRN Counseling is a Veterans Administration-verified veteran-owned small business.
We accept most insurance plans and accept the Medicare-approved amount as payment in full.
Also, we’re opening a location in Herkimer, where we’ve combined a gym for kids and offices for mental health professionals. We’ll keep track of the kid’s behavior and grades at home and school and they can use the gym if they exhibit good behavior.
Birth year: 1955
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, Syracuse University; Master of Social Work, Syracuse University
Current residence: Utica
Personal: Single, one son
Hobbies: President of the Mohawk Valley Boxing Association, basketball, swimming