ARTICLE I: NAME AND PURPOSE
Section 1. Name
This Association will be known as the “Gulf Coast Mental Health Counselors” hereafter referred to as GMHC.
Section 2. Affiliation
This Association is a District Affiliate of the Florida Mental Health Counselor’s Association (FMHCA) which is a State Affiliate of the American Mental Health Counselor’s Association (AMHCA) and is recognized by (FMHCA) as the association to represent mental health counselors in the designated District of Florida consistent with the Purposes as set forth in Article I, Section 3. GMHC, AMHCA, and FMHCA are all independent and autonomous professional associations.
Section 3. Purposes
The purposes of GMHC are to:
Promote the profession of mental health counseling;
- Provide a system for the exchange of professional information among mental health counselors through newsletters, journals or other scientific, educational and/or professional materials;
- Provide professional development programs for mental health counselors to update and enhance clinical competencies;
- Promote legislation that recognizes counseling;
- Provide a public forum for mental health counselors to advocate for the social and emotional welfare of clients;
- Promote positive relations with mental health counselors and other mental health practitioners in all work settings to enhance the profession of mental health counseling;
- Contribute to the establishment and maintenance of minimal training and education standards for mental health counselors;
- Promote scientific research and inquiry into mental health concerns;
- Provide liaison on the District and State level with other professional organizations to promote the advancement of the mental health profession;
- Provide the public with information concerning the competencies and professional services of mental health counselors;
- Promote equitable licensure standards for mental health counselors through the State Legislature.
ARTICLE II: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Types of Membership
There will be three types of membership: Clinical, Regular and Student. Clinical and Regular members may vote. Students are non-voting members.
Section 2. Requirements of Membership
To qualify for membership an individual must meet specific requirements for the category of membership sought, as follows:
A. CLINICAL MEMBER:
- Eligibility: Applicants for clinical membership must document that they meet entry level standards for professional recognition as a mental health counselor by 1) holding a license in Florida as a mental health counselor. 2) hold approved status as an applicant for licensure examination, or 3) hold certification by the Academy of Clinical Mental Health Counselors. Anyone who qualifies for Clinical Membership must apply for membership in that category.
- Procedure: A person becomes a clinical member of GMHC upon demonstration that professional requirements have been met and their dues have been paid. More specific procedures for implementing this section will be specified in policy adopted by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- 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 vote, to attend meetings of GMHC and FMHCA, to hold office in GMHC and may enjoy such other rights and privileges as may from time to time be offered to members.
B. REGULAR MEMBER:
- Any person who is a “Registered Intern” in the State of Florida is eligible for Regular Membership. Once licensed, or approved as an applicant for the licensure examination, membership must be as a Clinical Member.
- Regular members may attend meetings of GMHC and FMHCA.
C. STUDENT MEMBER:
- Academic Requirements: Any student enrolled in a graduate program for (as defined by the 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 Student Member of GMHC. A member must be certified by his/ her major professor as meeting this requirement.
Section 3. Dues
- Annual GMHCI dues will be established by action of the Board of Directors in accordance with these Bylaws and will be collected by the GMHC Treasurer or by such administrative person designated by the president of GMHC.
Section 4. Severance of Membership
A. A member may be dropped from membership for:
- non payment of dues
- falsely documenting that membership qualifications have been met, or
- by action of the Board of Directors
ARTICLE IV: OFFICERS OF THE CHAPTER
Section 1. Officers
The officers of this chapter will be President, Vice-President, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, Registered Intern Representative, and three (3) Members-at-Large. These officers will comprise the voting members of the Board of Directors of the chapter in good standing with GMHC.
- Officers of the chapter will be elected at large from among individual members of GMHC. The President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Registered Intern Representative and Members-at- Large will be elected for two year terms. All officers will assume their elected office on January 1 of each calendar year
- Upon the conclusion of the President’s term of office, he or she will continue as a voting member of the Board of Directors in the office of Past President for a term of two years. In the event that the President should die, resign or be otherwise unable to continue in the office until the end of their term the Vice- President will assume all duties of the office of the President.
- If a member leaves the Board of Directors during his/her term of office, or an officer elect should be unable or unwilling for any reason to assume the office for which they have been elected, the President will recommend to the Board of Directors the names of replacements. The Board of Directors will appoint the replacement from these recommendations to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.
- If a Board Member is absent from 3 required, that member will be considered for dismissal from their position by the Board of Directors, for not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. Dismissal or retention may occur with a two thirds majority vote of the Board.
Section 2. Nomination and Election of Officers
- The President will appoint, no later than SEPTEMBER 1, bi-annually an Ad Hoc Elections Committee.
- The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will determine the eligibility of all names submitted and will select for placement on the Election Ballot the names of at least two but not more than four candidates for each of the offices. Should an insufficient number of member nominations be submitted from members to fill the ballot, the Nominations and Elections Committee will select members willing to have their names placed on the Election Ballot. The Nominations and Elections Committee, at its discretion, may include names for inclusion on the Elections Ballot that were not submitted by members up to the specified limited number of nominations for each office.
- Should a member of the chapter find cause to contest the eligibility of any nominee, written notices will given to the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Elections Committee within fifteen (15) days after the publication of the slate of candidates. Without a contest being entered, the slate becomes incontestable fifteen (15) days after publication. Should a contest of eligibility be entered, the Nominations and Elections Committee will, within fifteen (15) days, determine the validity of the contested nomination and take appropriate action to remedy the situation.
- The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will complete the slate of officers published on the official website of the chapter no later than NOVEMBER 1. Ballots must be returned to the Secretary no later than DECEMBER 1. The Nominations and Elections Committee will ensure that only ballots returned by current GMHCI members will be counted.
- The Secretary will determine the winners from the returned ballots, and will certify the election results to the Board of Directors. The actual ballots will be retained for independent verification and in case there should be any challenge to the election results.
- The person receiving the largest number of votes for any office will be declared elected to the office. In case of a tie for first place, the winner will be chosen by the President.
- The Nominations and Elections Committee, with the approval of the Board of Directors will establish any additional policies necessary to implement this election procedure.
Section 3. Powers and Duties of Officers
- The President will serve as presiding officer of GMHC, as a voting member of the Board of Directors. The President will, with the approval of the Board of Directors, appoint all Ad Hoc committees. The President will have the power to act on behalf of GMHC in legislative and regulatory matters requiring immediate action. These actions will be consistent with the established legislative platform and purposes of GMHC. They will be reported to the Vice-President by telephone or in writing within three (3) working days and be reported to the Board of Directors at the next scheduled Board meeting. The President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors, will perform such other duties as are incidental to the office, or as may be properly required by vote of the Board of Directors and/or specified by policy.
- The Vice-President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors, will coordinate the Committees and will perform such duties as may be directed by the Board.
- The Past President will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors. He/she will perform duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Treasurer will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors. The Treasurer will perform other duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Secretary will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for recording of minutes at all official meetings of the Board of Directors. He/she will be responsible for the timely distribution of these minutes to all members of the Board. He/she may also serve as corresponding Secretary for all officially designated Board business. He/she will perform other duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Registered Intern Representative will be a voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for promoting the purposes and goals of GMHC among registered interns throughout the area and district and will perform other duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy.
- The Graduate Student Representative will be a non- voting member of the Board of Directors and will be responsible for promoting the purposes and goals of GMHC in college and university programs statewide that are educating and training future mental health counselors.
- The Member- at- Large of which there will be three (3) positions will serve as a voting member of the Board of Directors, and will perform duties as may be directed by the President, the Board of Directors and/or by policy. There will be no more than two (2) Members at large representing any one county.
Section 4. Removal From Office
A simple majority of the GMHC Board of Directors will be required to remove an elected member from the position.A. Reasons for removal from office are:
- Violation of professional, legal, or ethical codes.
- Failure to carry out duties/responsibilities of office, or
- Failure to act in accordance with the established legislative platform or purpose of GMHC.
The process of removal from office must be initiated in writing by a member of the chapter. Two additional letters from members supporting removal from office must accompany the initial charge. Ethical violations must be dealt with according to procedures detailed in policy relating to such matters as set forth by the Ethics Committee. The following steps will apply in sequence when the charge relates to failure to carry out the duties and responsibilities of one’s office:
- Written documentation of charges must be presented to the GMHC President. In cases when the President is being charged, the Past President will receive the written documentation of the charges.
- Notification of the charges must be provided to the officer in question and to the GMHC Board of Directors.
- Consideration of the issue, in closed executive session, by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- Attempts will be made to resolve the issues through appropriate communication channels with the intent of keeping the person in office if at all possible.
- Removal from office can occur by a two thirds majority vote of the remaining voting members of the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- There will be an opportunity for the accused to respond to charges, either in person or in written form to the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- Removal from office will not be official until ninety (90) days from the date of action taken regarding charges by the GMHC Board of Directors and District Representative(s).
- An appeal process will be available within ninety (90) days from the date of action taken regarding charges by the GMHC Board of Directors.
- During the ninety (90) day appeal period, the officer will take no official action without the expressed written approval of the President. If the officer in question is the President, the Past President will act on behalf of GMHC as President during the ninety (90) day appeal period.
- The accused member of the Board of Directors will be required to abstain from voting on the issue; the accused officer may also be asked to leave the session in which the issue is considered by the remainder of the Board of Directors.
- If removal from office results, written notice to this effect will be provided to the person charged by the GMHC President. Removal will also be duly recorded in the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting, along with the effective date of removal.
ARTICLE V: BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Section 1. Composition
A. Voting members of the Board of Directors of GMHC will be composed of the President, Vice-President, Past President, Registered Intern Representative, Secretary, Treasurer, and Three (3) Members-at-Large.
B. Non-voting members of the Board will include 2 graduate students and one webmaster.
Section 2. Duties and Responsibilities
- The Board of Directors will be the agency through which the general administrative policy and executive function of the chapter are affected. The Board will be responsible for developing and implementing policies in accordance with these bylaws and with respect to FMHCA policy.
- The Board of Directors will conduct, manage and control the business of the chapter in accordance with these bylaws. The Board of Directors may, at its discretion, contract with an outside organization for administrative services to be determined. No policy decisions may be delegated to any other entity.
Section 3. Meetings
- The Board of Directors meets at least quarterly. Additional meetings may be called by the President or a majority of the Board of Directors. Each member of the Board of Directors has one vote. A simple majority of the voting members of the Board of Directors constitutes a quorum.
ARTICLE VI: BUSINESS AFFAIRS OF THE ASSOCIATION
Section 1. Fiscal Year
The fiscal year will be from JANUARY 1 to DECEMBER 31.
Section 2. Property of the Association
In the event the Association should be dissolved, none of its property or assets will be distributed to any of the members. Instead, all of its property and assets will be transferred to such organization or organizations as the Board of Directors will determine to have purposes and activities most nearly consistent with those of the Chapter and Association.
Section 3. Meetings
The Annual Meeting of the Members will be held in January.
Section 4. Parliamentary Authority
The parliamentary authority for meetings of the GMHC will be Robert’s Rules of Order.
ARTICLE VII: STANDING and AD HOC COMMITTEES
Section 1. Standing Committees
Standing Committees are established in these bylaws. Standing Committee members will serve for a period of two years following their appointment, or until the beginning of the next fiscal year, whichever comes first. Committee chairpersons will be appointed by the GMHC President with approval of the Board of Directors. Each Committee will report to the Board of Directors, in writing, the salient activities, financial information and progress of the committee. All Standing Committee Chairpersons will be non voting members of the Board of Directors.
The following will be Standing Committees of GMHC
- The Bylaws Committee will receive and review proposals for amending the bylaws and all resolutions submitted by various components of the Association. It will develop structures, processes and the processes of governance that effectively support GMHC.
- The Professional Development Committee will monitor the professional development needs of the Association’s members. It will develop and implement a comprehensive plan of continuing education directed towards clinical and practical issues. The committee will be responsible for providing workshops, publications, and in-service opportunities related to identified needs. Committee will secure speakers; collect CV, agenda and objectives to submit for CEU approval.
Section 2. Ad Hoc Committees
The committees of the Association will include Special Committees as may from time to time be established by the Board of Directors with members appointed by the President. A Special Committee will exist until, in the judgment of the Board, the purpose of said committee has been accomplished. All Special Committee Chairpersons will be non voting members of the Board of Directors.
The Ad Hoc Elections Committee will be responsible for carrying out nominations and elections procedures. The committee members will be appointed by the President and consist of two Board of Directors Members and one member (non Board member) who must be at least a “regular” member of GMHC in good standing.
ARTICLE VIII: ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF BYLAWS
Section 1. Adoption and Amendment
These bylaws are adopted by the Board of Directors effective __ and are subject to ratification by the membership at the first Annual Meeting of the Membership.
These bylaws may be amended by simple majority vote of the Board of Directors subject to ratification by the members at the first Annual Meeting of the Membership.
Section 2. Publication
The bylaws of the Association will be published on their official website.
ARTICLE IX: ETHICS
The Ethical Standards published by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), as they may from time to time be revised, are adopted as the ethical standards of GMHC. In any instance where Florida state and/or federal law and the referenced ethical standards of AMHCA conflict, the higher or more stringent standard will apply. AMHCA’s Standards of Ethics are the minimum standards of professional conduct and behavior for practicing counselors and therapists. All members are expected to familiarize themselves with these standards.