Accountants Concerned for Accountants (ACA)

Accountants Concerned for Accountants helps accountants, their families and colleagues with behavioral compulsions and addictions, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual, food, and others.  ACA provides peer support, assessment, consultation and referral to accountants. The MNCPA supports this program.

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MNCPA supports 20-year organization helping members

Contributed by the MNCPA

Accountants Concerned for Accountants (ACA) has been helping accountants battle, seek help and recover from addictive behaviors for twenty years. It started with a suggestion from an MNCPA member about developing a resource for accountants similar to those available to other professional groups in the community. With the support of the MNCPA, the ACA is able to operate and provide life-changing services and help to accountants.

ACA’s program is available to accountants and CPAs of all ages and backgrounds throughout Minnesota. Services include consultation, counseling, assessment, intervention and referral sources including peer group support for accountants in recovery. “ACA helps accountants, their co-workers and families identify health problems before it costs a job, marriage, career or a life” according to Diane Nass, ACA’s executive director since it was founded in 1986. She is also a chemical dependency counselor.

An annual grant from the MNCPA and donations from MNCPA members, CPA firms and companies are vital for ACA to operate each year. Major funding from the MNCPA also makes help readily available to those who need it or don't have adequate insurance. ACA assists in finding options for those without insurance for treatment and recovery. Nass works closely with health care provider organizations and professional licensing boards to ensure that alcoholic and chemically dependent professionals are appropriately supported to maintain sobriety and get proper treatment. ACA members have the option to attend a monthly support meeting. Meetings provide on-going support, education about addictions and promote continued recovery for current and new ACA members.

Nass says that in ACA’s early years, common addictions treated were narcotics and alcohol but services have expanded to meet the needs of other addictions. The ACA has helped individuals battle gambling addiction and eating disorders according to Nass. The number of cases has increased in recent years.

Any accountant or a loved one can call the ACA office for help and information. All calls are confidential. When inquiries are received on behalf of someone else such as a co-worker or relative, a name is requested along with the specific concern. In this situation, a meeting is arranged to gather information and discuss options to approach the person. Nass guides those who contact her on behalf of someone else through an intervention process and the early stages to treatment. ACA also researches insurance policies for approval of treatment programs prior to intervention so the person’s treatment is available immediately.

Naas has been helping people recover from alcoholism and chemical dependency as a professional and as a volunteer for more than 30 years. The ACA office operates with a staff which includes herself, a part-time office manager and an active board of directors and volunteers. She has also served as the executive director for Physicians Serving Physicians since 1981 and held the same position for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and Dentists Concerned for Dentists. Her dedication and work has been recognized with several awards. Prior to counseling, she worked in the finance industry as a stockbroker.

As a certified chemical dependency practitioner, she also serves as a resource to other professional groups, a consultant to Minnesota corporations and provides individual and family counseling for the stress and conflict resulting from chemical dependency. She has provided intervention training and preparation to hundreds of families and employers and helped thousands get and stay sober through her personal efforts. Nass says she’s committed to doing whatever it takes to help addicts and their families - even if it requires her time during evenings or weekends. She’s also willing to drive anywhere in the state to help.

The Minnesota Board of Accountancy and the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants have no policy regarding alcoholism, chemical dependency or other addictions and there are no reporting requirements.

For additional information about ACA and addiction please visit the ACA website or make a confidential call to ACA Executive Director, Diane Nass at 952-920-5287.

A fellow member's story

"I've been involved with Accountants Concerned for Accountants since its start 24 years ago. I knew of similar organizations for lawyers and physicians and wondered why there wasn’t something available for accountants. I learned an organization was being formed and joined the team that helped established ACA.

"Over the years I’ve had some great experiences with ACA. ACA meetings are not AA meetings. They are really meetings about how we can help our fellow CPAs. We all understand the pressures of tax season and those other related nuances that continuously occur. There is a level of understanding within the group.

"ACA was initially limited to alcohol but now the organization also recognizes other problems and addictions. If somebody has a problem, ACA can be the first call for help. ACA makes sure accountants and their family members get the help they need. The services ACA provides are available to MNCPA members, their family and members of their firm.

"Often, people feel totally alone and find that ACA is a welcoming environment where I am not going to be judged; I’ll be accepted for who I am, where I’m at. When somebody hits their bottom, they experience a sense of hopelessness and ACA addresses those feelings."

-- John Jelinek, Hopkins Financial Advisors, LLC

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