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A Division of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

Article I: Name, Vision, Mission, and Purpose

Section 1: Name
The name of the Association shall be the Pennsylvania Mental Health Counselors Association (hereafter: PAMHCA), This association is a State Branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), and is recognized by AMHCA as the association to represent mental health counselors in the State of Pennsylvania consistent with the Purposes as set forth in Article I, Section 3. Both AMHCA and PAMHCA are independent and autonomous professional associations

Section 2: Vision, Mission, and Purpose

The vision of PAMHCA and its members is the same as that of AMHCA: "To enhance the profession of mental health counseling through licensing, advocacy, education and professional development" in the Common wealth of Pennsylvania. 

PAMHCA’s mission it to protect sustain, and advance the profession of mental health counseling in the State of Pennsylvania. 

Further, the purposes of PAMHCA and its members shall be as follows:
1.    To follow the highest professional standards and to abide by the Code of Ethics of the AMHCA; 
2.    To advance the profession of mental health counseling;
3.    To promote the exchange of professional information among mental health counselors by means of a newsletter or other scientific, educational, and professional materials;
4.    To provide continuing education opportunities through conferences, workshops, and other means that assist mental health counselors in updating and enhancing their competencies;
5.    To formulate training standards necessary for mental health counselors;
6.    To promote research studies into the effectiveness of mental health counseling interventions and related issues;
7.    To promote positive relations with other professional organizations for effective advocacy for mental health issues;
8.    To promote a program of effective public relations to enhance awareness of mental health
9.    counseling and the competencies and services of its practitioners;
10.    To promote high standards for credentialing and for licensure issues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
11.    To provide a liaison with other professional groups in order to assist in the advancement of the mental health profession.


Section 3:  Affiliation and Bylaws of Other Organizations

This association is a State Branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and is recognized by AMHCA as the association to represent licensed professional counselors (also known as mental health counselors) in Pennsylvania, consistent with the Purposes as set forth in Article I. Both AMHCA and PAMHCA are independent and autonomous professional associations.

The association shall not be bound by the bylaws of any other organization or by changes in the bylaws of any organization of which it is a member unless such bylaws or such changes have been approved by a majority vote of the board of the association.                         

Article II: Membership

Section 1: Types of Membership
Voting membership shall be of one type: individual membership. There are four categories of individual membership: a. regular; b. student; c. special; d. retired.

Section 2: Requirements of Membership
1.    Clinical Members: Eligibility: Applicants for clinical membership must document that they meet entry-level standards for professional recognition as a professional counselor by 1) holding licensure in Pennsylvania as a professional counselor, holding status as a Registered Intern or 2) holding approved status as an applicant for licensure examination. Anyone who qualifies for Clinical Membership must apply for membership in that category. Procedure: A person becomes a clinical member of PAMHCA upon demonstration that professional requirements have been met and their initial dues have been paid. Obligations and Privileges: A clinical member must pay annual dues, and must adhere to the referenced professional Code of Ethics. A clinical member in good standing will be entitled to attend and vote at membership meetings of PAMHCA, to hold office in PAMHCA and may enjoy such rights and privileges as may from time to time be offered members.
2.    Regular Members: Membership is open to anyone who is a member of one or more of the following: the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), the American Counseling Association (ACA), the Pennsylvania Counseling Association (PCA), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) as a National Certified Counselor (NCC). A regular member in good standing will be entitled to attend and vote at membership meetings of PAMHCA, to hold office in PAMHCA and may enjoy such rights and privileges as may from time to time be offered members. 
3.    Graduate Student Members: Academic Requirements: Any student enrolled in a graduate program for half time or more (as defined by his/her college or university) in mental health counseling or a closely related field in a regionally accredited college or university will be eligible to become a Graduate Student Member of PAMHCA. A member must be certified by his/her major professor as meeting this requirement. Graduate Student members may vote at membership meetings and may be eligible to hold office in the Association, but will not be able to serve as president or president-elect of the Association...
4.    Special Members: The President and Executive Council of PAMHCA may choose individuals who do not meet the requirements of either regular member or student member, but have some expertise, which may contribute to the improvement of PAMHCA. The Executive Council must approve any special membership application.
5.    Retired Members: Those individuals who have retired from the field of mental health counseling, but who would still wish to be active in their professional organization.

Section 3: Rights and Privileges
Voting membership shall be limited to regular, student, special, and retired members.
Section 4: Severance of Membership
1.    A member may be dropped from membership for conduct that tends to injure PAMHCA, or which violates the Bylaws or Code of Ethics of the AMHCA or of the PAMHCA. Members charged with engaging in such conduct shall be given notice of the precise nature of the charge, shall be given the opportunity to present evidence in their behalf through witnesses or otherwise, shall be given the opportunity to confront witnesses against them, and shall have the right to appeal, and have a hearing before the Board   of PAMHCA, whose decision will be final. The Ethics Review Panel shall consider any charges made over the signature of two PAMHCA members in good standing. The Ethics Review Panel shall have the power to determine whether the accused member has the right to appeal to the Board   any final decision of the Committee on Ethics.
The Code of Ethics, formulated by the AMHCA and endorsed to by PAMHCA, contains fifteen principles: 1. Welfare of the consumer; 2. Clients' rights; 3. Confidentiality;4. Utilization of assessment techniques; 5. Pursuit of research activities; 6. Consulting; 7. Competence; 8. Professional relationships; 9. Supervisee, student and employee relationships;  10. Moral and legal standards; 11. Professional responsibility;  12. Private practice; 13. Public statements; 14. Private practice; 15. Resolution of ethical problems.
2.    A member may be dropped from membership for: 1. Non-payment of dues; 2. falsely certifying that divisional membership qualifications have been met.
3.    Any behavior leading to the loss of license as determined by the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.

Article III: Regional Chapter and Special Interest Group

Section 1: Regional Chapter
The Association encourages the development of Regional Chapters to promote regional interest and participation in the profession. There are six identified regions of Pennsylvania, however  PAMHCA will be located in the State College region. The remaining five regions are: Erie , Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia  New chapters may be accepted by the PAMHCA Board upon meeting the following criteria:
•    The group must consist of at least 12 members.
•    There may be no more than one PAMHCA Regional Chapter in any given geographical area.
•    The Regional Chapter will organize in accordance with the Bylaws of PAMHCA and develop their own Chapter bylaws to reflect local operations and structure. They will assure that their chapter is in compliance with applicable PAMHCA Bylaws concerning local chapters.
•    All officers of the Regional Chapter will be members in good standing of PAMHCA.
•    Charter status is awarded to the Regional Chapter by the PAMHCA Board. 
•    The Regional Chapter will be free to conduct its affairs at the regional level in compliance with the Bylaws of the Association, and
•    Regional chapters must present Chapter Bylaws to the PAMHCA Board for approval to become an official Chapter of PAMHCA.

Each regional Chapter will submit a written report annually by September 1 to the Secretary of the PAMHCA Board to include 1) a summary of Chapter activities during the past year 2) a current roster of its officers and 3) a list of members.

Section 2. Charter Renewal Standards
Standards for charter renewal reflect the sound organization and development necessary for a Regional Chapter of PAMHCA. The Secretary of the PAMHCA Board will make recommendations annually to the PAMHCA Board concerning charter renewal for each Regional Chapter. Standards and Procedures for Charter Renewal will be established by policy in accordance with the Bylaws.

Section 3. Involuntary Revocation of Chapter
The PAMHCA Board will have the power to revoke the charter of a Local Chapter if said chapter fails to comply with the requirements indicated under Article III: Local Chapter and Special Interest Group, Section 1.

Section 4. Interest Sections of "Special Interest Groups" ("SIGs")
"Special interest Groups" (SIGs) may be organized on a statewide or local basis to promote professional interests not otherwise included in the organizational structure of PAMHCA. A group of PAMHCA members interested in establishing an interest section may petition the PAMHCA Board for SIG status. The PAMHCA Board will adopt policies and procedures relative to formation, governance and funding
of SIGs.

Article IV: Meetings of the Association

Section 1: Business Year
The official business year of PAMHCA shall be that of AMHCA, July 1st to June 30th.

Section 2: Annual Meetings and Quarterly Meetings
Annual Meetings: A meeting of the membership will take place annually. The agenda for such meeting will include a review of the Association activities and accomplishments in the past year, financial report, legislative activities and ratification of any bylaws changes previously approved by the PAMHCA Board. The Annual Membership Meeting will be called to order at the Annual Conference when held, otherwise by electronic media. A quorum at the Annual Membership Meeting will be the members present.

Notice of the date and time and method of attending the annual meeting will be sent to all members by email where possible, otherwise by notice in PAMHCA’s online newsletter.

Quarterly Meetings: Quarterly meetings of the PAMHCA executive board will be held via conference calls organized by the PAMHCA President.

Section 3: Additional Meetings
The President may, with the approval of the Executive Committee, call additional meetings of PAMHCA when necessary or desirable.

Article V: Officers

Section 1: Officers
The officers of PAMHCA shall be President, President-Elect, Immediate Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, and four board members-at-large. All officers must be members in good standing in PAMHCA, and in one or more of the following: AMHCA, NBCC as NCC. 

Section 2: Duties and Terms of Officers
The duties and terms of officers shall be as follows:
1.    The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of PAMHCA and Chairperson of its Executive Council. He/She shall appoint, with the approval of the Executive Council, the Chairpersons and members of all committees, unless otherwise specifically provided for in these bylaws or by the motion establishing such committees. The President shall serve as representative to the AMHCA. The President shall perform such other duties as are incident to the office, or as may be properly required by vote of the Executive Council.
2.    The President-Elect shall act as President at all PAMHCA or Executive Council meetings in the absence of the President and shall succeed to the presidency at the expiration of his/her term as President-Elect. In the event that the President-Elect should resign or be unable to complete his/her unexpired term, the Executive Council shall appoint qualified members to fill the unexpired vacancy (-ies). In the event that the President should resign or be unable to meet the obligations for which elected, the President-Elect shall automatically become the President for the remainder of the unfinished term of office and for the complete term of office immediately following.
3.    The immediate Past President shall serve for two years following the expiration of his/her presidential term. He/She shall serve as member of the Executive Council and shall perform such duties as may be directed by the Board. The immediate Past President will serve as Chairperson of the Nominations and Elections Committee.
4.    The Secretary shall keep all records of the current activities of PAMHCA including its board minutes, and all records of its Executive Committee, including its committee minutes, and for distribution of the same to all PAMHCA members. The Secretary shall maintain and protect the archives of PAMHCA and pass all these records on to the next duly elected Secretary at the end of his/her term of office. Archival material shall be stored and indexed by the elected Secretary.
5.    The Treasurer shall have custody of all funds of PAMHCA and other properties belonging to PAMHCA. The Treasurer shall deposit all funds of PAMHCA in an interest bearing account. In the case that this is not an option, then a non-interest bearing account will be acceptable. This money may be spent only after approval by a two/thirds vote of the Executive Council of PAMHCA. The Treasurer shall abide by the financial policies of AMHCA. The Treasurer is responsible for maintaining a balanced budget. Deficit spending is prohibited. The Executive Council from time to time shall prescribe methods and procedures for authorizing the expenditure of and the accounting for such funds.
6.    Four Members-at-large will perform duties specified by the President. Each Member-at-large shall provide status reports pertaining to said duties at the discretion of the President.
7.    Each officer shall be a member in good standing. In addition, each officer must be a member of PAMHCA. In addition, it is suggested that officers be members of any or all of the following: AMHCA or NBCC. No member is eligible to serve in the same office for more than two consecutive terms of office. 
8.    The term for all officers shall be for two years. The beginning and ending dates of office for PAMHCA officers shall coincide with the dates for officers of AMHCA.
9.    Should a member of PAMHCA find cause to contest the eligibility of any nominee, he/she must act in accordance with the bylaws of AMHCA.

Section 3: Removal from Office
An elected officer or member of the Executive Council may be removed from office for failure to perform assigned duties. The process of removing an officer or member of the Executive Council must be done in accordance with the bylaws of AMHCA.

Article VI: Executive Council

Section 1: Power and Functions
The Executive Council shall be the agency through which the general administrative and executive functions of PAMHCA shall be carried out. It shall conduct, manage, and control the business of PAMHCA. The President of PAMHCA shall be the Chairperson of the Executive Council.

Section 2: Composition, Nomination and Election of the Executive Council
1.    The Executive Council of PAMHCA shall be composed of:
a.    the officers of PAMHCA,
b.    the Chairpersons of the standing committees;
c.    other persons appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Council, whose services may be needed for special purposes.
2.    All members of the Executive Council shall be voting members.
3.    The PAMHCA Executive Council shall be elected in the manner described in Article VIII of these bylaws.
4.    If a member leaves the Executive Council during the term of office, the President shall, unless otherwise specified in these bylaws, recommend to the Executive Council the names of two qualified replacements. The Executive Council shall appoint the replacement from the two recommended to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

Section 3: Meetings
1.    The Executive Council shall meet at least twice a year, at the time and place of the annual PAMHCA meeting, and again at a time and place designated by either the President or the majority of the Executive Council.
2.    A simple majority (one-half-plus-one) of the members of the Executive Council shall constitute a quorum.

Article VII: Committees

Section 1: Standing Committees
The Committees of PMHCA shall consist of the Standing Committees, whose members are appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Council. The following shall be the Standing Committees of PAMHCA:
1.    Public Policy, Legislation, and Bylaws Committee shall be responsible for monitoring the activities of the state and national legislatures  and other  regulatory bodies,  and  to  advise  and  inform PAMHCA  and  its members  concerning developments  relative  to these  groups  that  affect  the welfare  and  working  conditions  of  mental  health  counselors  and  consumers; Also, this committee will review PAMHCA's bylaws at least once a year, and make recommendations for updating and revising these bylaws.
2.    Ethics Committee will receive and review requests from Association members relating to the ethical conduct of Association members or officers and any other issue of an ethical nature that may come before the Association. It will make any recommendation for action to the Board.
3.    Nominations and Elections Committee shall be responsible for carrying out nominations and elections procedures in accordance with these bylaws and the bylaws of AMHCA. The committee members will be appointed by the President and will consist of 1) the Past President who will serve automatically as the Chairperson of the Nominations and Elections Committee; 2) one other member of the Board of Directors; and 3) one clinical member of FMHCA in good standing who is not a member of the Board.
4.    Programs Committee shall be responsible for the programs and arrangements for all meetings of PAMHCA.
5.    Membership, Marketing, and Public Relations Committee shall initiate, encourage, and direct activities to build good public relations. It shall also coordinate and direct all publications of PAMHCA.

Section 2: Reports
Each committee shall report to the President at least once a year, in writing the salient activities, financial information, and progress of the committee, as indicated in the annual committee guidelines or as directed by the President and the Executive Council.


Section 3: Task Forces
The President may establish Task Forces as is deemed necessary to conduct the affairs of PAMHCA. The Task Force Chairperson and members shall be appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Council.
Section 4: Commissions
Any combination of the above-listed committees, task forces, or individuals assigned by the Executive Council to work toward an identified end shall be called a Commission.

Article VIII: Dues

In addition to any allocation received from AMHCA, PAMHCA may assess additional dues, provided such assessments are recommended by the Executive Council and approved by a majority of the membership present in a regular business meeting of the Division. The PAMHCA Treasurer shall collect all dues for PAMHCA.

Article IX: Election of Officers

Section 1: Choice of Nominees
The Nominations and Elections Committee shall prepare an official slate of nominees for the positions of President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and four Members-at-large, and for the President, when necessary. This Committee should take into consideration the individual's qualifications for office, geographical location, the nominees' fields of interest, and his/her consent. If no member is identified for a position on this slate, an effort will be made to recruit among
active and qualified members for said position.

Officers of the Association will be nominated and elected annually consistent with policy established by the board and adhering to the following schedule:

February 1: President appoints the Nominations and Elections Committee

March 1: Publication of "Call for Nominations"

May 1: Publication of list of nominees and a procedure for voting

June 1: Deadline for completion of voting procedure

July 1: Newly elected officers assume office 

Section 2: Election to Office
Ballots will be canvassed and a report of the election will be made at the annual business meeting of the PAMHCA.  A plurality vote of members voting shall constitute election to office.

Section 3: When to Assume Duties of Office
Elected officers will assume the duties of their office at the beginning of the fiscal year in accordance with the bylaws of PAMHCA.

Section 4: Vacancy of an Office
In case of a vacancy in the office of President, the President-Elect shall succeed to the President's unexpired term and continue through the term for which elected. In the case of a vacancy in any of the other offices, the Executive Council shall have the power to fill the vacancy until the next regular election. If any officer elected should be unable to assume the office on the first day of the new fiscal year, the next ranking candidate on the election return shall assume the office.

Article X: Conduct of Business

Section 1: Constitution and Bylaws
The Constitution and Bylaws of the AMHCA shall govern the proceedings of PAMHCA that are not otherwise specified in these bylaws. 

Section 2: Quorum
Thirty percent of the members of PAMHCA shall constitute a quorum, authorized to transact any business duly presented in any meeting of PAMHCA.

Section 3: Majority
A majority of the authorized membership of the Executive Council shall constitute a quorum for conducting the business of that Council.

Section 4: Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of PAMHCA shall correspond to the fiscal year of AMHCA.

Section 5: Dissolution
In the event that PAMHCA should be dissolved, none of its property shall be distributed to any of the members. Instead, all of its property shall be transferred to such organization or organizations as the Executive Council shall determine to have purposes or activities most nearly consonant with those of PAMHCA, provided, however, that such organization or organizations shall be exempt under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code or corresponding provisions of the Internal Revenue Laws.

Article XI: Bylaws

Section 1: Amendment and Adoption
These bylaws may be amended by a simple majority of the Executive Council. 

Section 2: Emergency Amendments
In case of an emergency, the Executive Council may submit a proposed amendment to the membership for a mail vote. Twenty (20) days after mailing the proposed amendment, the polls shall be closed and votes shall be counted by the Executive Council. If passed by a majority of the members voting, the amendment shall go into effect.

Section 3: Notification of Bylaws Change
The Executive Council of PAMHCA must be notified, in writing, at least thirty (30) days prior to any Board meeting, of any proposal to add or amend the bylaws of PAMHCA. 

Section 4: Publication of Bylaws
The bylaws of PAMHCA shall be published in their entirety, with changes as they occur, every five years. All amendments adopted by PAMHCA during an official year shall be printed as they occur on a yearly basis.

Article XII: Nondiscrimination

There shall be no discrimination against any individual on the basis of ethnic group, color, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, age and/or handicapping condition.
Article XIII: Rules of Order

The parliamentary authority for meetings of PAMHCA will be Roberts Rules of Order, newly revised, 1980 edition (by Henry Martin Roberts), as from time to time amended.

Bylaws Adopted: April 14, 1980 and Revised April 23 19n; August 16 and November 9, 1996;
March 10, 1999; August 23, 2006; March 2, 2007; January 7, 2016    


American Mental Health
Counselors Association

Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association

American Counseling Association

​Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative