Together We Change Stories

Cornerstone is led by a passionate team of counselors who each have a heart to serve and provide both individuals and families with high-quality care. Our counselors are here to help you begin a journey toward healing and restoration in every area of your life.

Cornerstone Counseling is a trusted group of professional counselors that I regularly refer people to from my pastoral counseling encounters.

Ken Murphy

Our History and Beliefs

After serving on a church staff for several years, Lee Smith saw his heart grow more than ever for the local church and for the state of Mississippi. He was inspired to open a private practice that would serve the community and state in both practical and unique ways.

Lee soon began to dream about a team of therapists that pastors and other professionals in the community could trust and partner with. He wanted to build a place where individuals and families would be treated with distinct care, and be better connected to their community: their doctors, their schools, their churches, their sponsors … anyone who might be able to facilitate their healing process. He also dreamed of becoming a place where clinicians could receive top-notch training and then be commissioned to serve in other areas of the state, country and world.

When Cornerstone opened in 2012, it was our desire that we become a place where each and every person who entered our doors, no matter how big or small their problems were, would feel cared for, safe, and important.

Jesus was pretty clear when he said “…In this life, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). When trouble comes our way, our faith can be tested to its core. At Cornerstone, we believe that faith plays an integral role in the lives of our clients, regardless of the specifics of what they believe. As Christian counselors, we believe our faith guides us in the counseling process with each person we see. Please know, however, that we work with people from all backgrounds, including religious and non-religious belief systems.

We do not seek to impose our beliefs upon others, but we do recognize that our beliefs impact and shape our work with clients. Ultimately, it is our goal to see our clients living out balanced and healthy lives –spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Whether you are seeking individual, couples, marriage, teen, child, or family counseling, you will find that your counselor is sympathetic to the role faith plays in your life.

"This family is built on the teachings of the missionaries and the early preachers. Jesus Christ Himself is the cornerstone, which is the most important part of the building." Ephesians 2:20

Our Team

Lee Smith

Founder and Director of Cornerstone, M.S., L.P.C.

Lee is the Founder and Director of Cornerstone and has been counseling since 2006. A native of the Mississippi Delta, he attended Delta State University and later Mississippi College where he received his M.S. in Counseling Psychology. He is a nationally board certified, Licensed Professional Counselor. When it comes to his career, Lee has had a very diverse background spending over ten years in sales and management in both the wireless and pharmaceutical industries. Lee later served on staff at Pinelake Church for a number of years.

Since being in private practice, Lee has worked with adolescents, families, marriages and individuals addressing a variety of topics. He specializes in marriage and family dynamics, anxiety and depression and working with those who serve in the ministry. In addition to his work in private practice, Lee is a sought after speaker at churches, retreats and events.

He believes that change in a person occurs in the context of relationships and vulnerability. Being fully known, fully accepted and being reminded of the life-changing truth of the Gospel is what continues to profoundly impact Lee’s life. He loves spending time with his wife, his three children, and his family and friends. He also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, drinking a great cup of coffee and listening to a wide range of music.

Pastor Reviews:

"I have tremendous confidence in Lee, not just as a counselor, but also as a friend and a man after God’s heart. At Pinelake, we define ministry as “what you leave behind you as you follow Christ.”Having served alongside Lee for over a decade, I have witnessed many lives touched by the wake of his walk with Jesus. In addition, Lee’s unique gifting, compassion and ability to speak hard truth in love gives me great confidence anytime I refer people to him."

Chip Henderson, Senior Pastor at Pinelake Church

"Lee Smith gets it. The needs of people are not just psychological but holistic. Here at Venture Church, he has created opportunities for healing through individual counseling, a referral plan for family counseling and has been on the ground floor of helping build out our Recovery Ministry. We are thankful and blessed to work alongside him."

Jeff Clark, Senior Pastor at Venture Church (Hattiesburg)

Allison Layton

L.P.C., L.M.F.T., B.C.-TMH

Allison is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Mississippi College and her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy & Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary. Allison has worked with a diverse population ranging from pre-teens to adults and has walked through many trials such as anxiety, depression, grief, life transitions, relationship difficulties, and planning for the future. She desires to meet clients right where they are with deep compassion and encouragement. Her therapy style is client-centered, focusing on the client’s autonomy and resources. Her background in marriage and family therapy also influences her ability to better understand the family dynamics that shape her clients, the way they interact with others, and the way they view themselves.

Allison is a board qualified Telemental Health Provider, a Gottman level 1 trained therapist, and will be trained in EMDR fall of 2019.

When she isn’t seeing clients, you could probably find Allison playing tennis or spending time with her husband, Tyler and golden doodle, Layla. She also enjoys reading, singing, serving her church, eating good food, and traveling.

Client Reviews:

“Allison is kindness and compassion personified. She invites you to a space of comfort, while confidently and bravely guiding you through deep fears and hurts to freedom and peace. She sees all clients as children of God and people of worth. Because of this she is a soft place to land and a safe person to share with. Without hesitation, I would recommend Allison to anyone.”

“I am so grateful for my work with Allison as she walked with me through some of my darkest days. She cares deeply, is patient, and extends compassion unconditionally. I will continue to use the skills I gained while working with her throughout the rest of my life!”

Anna Mahaffey

M.A., P-L.P.C.

Ever since Anna was a young child, she wanted to become a counselor. Through receiving counseling in various seasons of her life, Anna’s desire grew to serve and minister to those experiencing hardship and life transitions. Anna graduated from the University of Mississippi and spent the following two years interning with Reformed University Fellowship at Texas A&M. After her time with RUF, Anna received her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary.

Anna primarily works with preteens, adolescents, young adults and adult women on various issues such as: depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, family issues and parenting, communication skills, emotional regulation, interpersonal skills and life transitions. Anna also has a Level 1 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and is a Prepare-Enrich Premarital Counseling Facilitator. She is currently pursuing her LPC and is under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Jones. In her free time you will find her watching a movie, working on an art project or spending time with her husband (Matt) and puppy (Fenway).

Client Reviews:

“Anna is a freedom focused therapist. She, so beautifully, is able to look at the big picture in order to see the heart of the problem, hurt, or need. Once discovered, Anna unwaveringly sits with her clients in that problem, hurt, or need and walks with them out to freedom. She is unafraid of the challenges her clients face, and compassionately helps them find comfort, peace, and joy. I would highly recommend Anna to anyone who is seeking wise, Godly counsel!” - Client of Anna’s

"Anna has helped me be honest with myself and given me a safe, comfortable space to be honest with others too.. the process of counseling has transformed the way I think about and operate in daily life. These services have been truly invaluable to me."

Carroll Blackledge

M.A., P-L.P.C.

Carroll’s path to professional counseling is not best represented by a straight line. Rather he believes God has orchestrated three separate and distinct careers – as a business person, staff pastor and now as a counselor - in order to prepare him to help others navigate life’s ever-
present challenges. A native Jacksonian, Carroll honed his counseling skills while serving on the staff of Pinelake church in Madison and formalized his counseling education at Liberty University, culminating in the completion of his master’s degree in Professional Counseling.

As a counselor, Carroll is especially drawn to those in crisis – marriage and family conflict, career, grief, depression, anxiety, substance abuse – but is also passionate about helping individuals and families navigate the less traumatic moments of life that seem to be a part of our everyday existence. He believes his life experience, in conjunction with his personal faith and professional training, have equipped him to be utilized by God to help others in pain.

Away from the counseling office, Carroll loves to spend time with his family, including his wife of over forty years, Sharon, two married children and multiple grandchildren. Additionally, he is a licensed general aviation pilot and enjoys cruising around in the sky.

Don Waller

M.S., L.P.C.

Don Waller, a Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) since 2009, brings a unique perspective to counseling. After graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Business Administration, Don spent the next twenty years in the Oil & Gas Industry in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Running a successful business and raising a family helped prepare Don for his next calling – returning to study counseling and receiving a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mississippi College.

His counseling career began at Summit Counseling, First Baptist Church in 2007. Joining with individuals and couples to help them experience fulfilling relationships they desire became a passion. Don has been gifted in helping men discover their God given place in life, helping them break free of harmful behaviors and addictions, and helping men find strength and freedom through living in community while experiencing authentic relationships. Leading men’s retreats and adventures has further expanded Don’s impact on men's lives.

Planning and leading marriage retreats is another area of experience for Don. In 2015, Don along with Dr. Ron Mumbower held a marriage conference for missionary couples in South Africa. This conference involved intensive counseling sessions that helped couples better cope with working overseas and helped them discover new ways to find a fulfilling marriage.

Don is married to Yonnie and has two daughters and a son. Experiencing God’s best in his own marriage, family, and relationships has been a driving force in Don’s life, and he uses that success to help others find God’s best too.

Experience and education have helped Don become successful helping others with depression, anxiety, and addictions, Don’s marital counseling includes communication, conflict resolution, emotional as well as physical intimacy, dealing with affairs and trauma.

Don Waller is a dedicated counselor with experience, passion, and a desire to help others through difficult times.

Emily Ruela

Administrative Assistant

Emily is an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi pursuing her B.A in Psychology and plans on pursuing a career in counseling. In her spare time, she enjoys serving in the Children's Ministry at Pinelake Church as well as volunteering with local and international non-profit organizations that support pediatric healthcare. Emily also enjoys running, spending time with her family and friends and traveling.

Holly Palmer

M.A., L.P.C.

Holly Palmer is a Licensed Professional Counselor and holds a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). She is a Mississippi native and resides in Madison with her husband and two children. Holly has worked with hundreds of clients in various settings using a client-centered approach to promote real change and healing in their lives. She believes in catering to the needs of each individual, couple or family that comes through the door. Holly works with people on a variety of issues including anxiety and depression, trauma and traumatic grief, eating disorders, women’s issues, postpartum complications, communication skills, and relationship distress. Holly believes it is important to identify the root of internal and relational conflict using an emotion focused approach to break disruptive cycles and experience personal growth.

Holly has a Level 1 Certification in Gottman Method Couples Training and is a Prepare-Enrich Premarital Facilitator. She has also spent time receiving special training in the evidence based practice of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) that has successfully shown to resolve a broad array of emotional and behavioral difficulties in single, multiple and complex trauma experiences.

Combining an informed therapeutic approach with her seminary education, she hopes that a strong biblical foundation helps her client’s feel safe, valued, and worthy. Holly truly finds it a privilege to walk through the hardships on this side of Heaven with her clients and to see the Lord work healing in their lives.

Dr. Kristen Jones

L.P.C.-S, N.C.C.

Dr. Kristen Jones is a National Board-Certified Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor by the State of Mississippi.
She attended the University of Memphis where she received a B.A. in Psychology. She later graduated with an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mississippi College. Dr. Jones acquired her Doctorate in Professional Counseling from Mississippi College.

Dr. Jones has years of experience and research, giving her specific insight to working with anxiety, depression, and normal life adjustments. She works with anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, and attachment disorders. Her understanding of the world of adolescents helps her bridge the communication gap between parents and teens.

Through her research and hands on experience with trauma, attachment and life adjustments; she is passionate about helping families heal. Whether from adoption, divorce, or foster care. She has a heart for helping families navigate various aspects of life.

For those who are ready to do a deep dive into behavior and unconscious motivations, Dr. Jones uses enneagram knowledge and language to help shed light on unconscious motivations that keep us stuck in the same patterns of behaving and feeling.

Dr. Jones enjoys working with the local Jackson community. She partners with schools in the Jackson area to teach middle school and high school students about anxiety. Additionally, Dr. Jones partners with local foster care and adoptive communities to inform them of the impact of trauma on attachment and behaviors. She also offers workshops on body language, and mental health awareness.

Lauren Laird

Billing Assistant

Lauren has worked at Cornerstone for the past three years covering office administration and billing. As we have grown, her role has become more focused on billing and insurance.

Lauren grew up in Atlanta and graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she met her husband, Lee. After they married, they lived in Charlotte, NC for a few years. During that time, she helped in the front office at a Christian counseling center called The Barnabas Center. It was through this ministry, she began to value and understand the importance of seeking counseling through all the different seasons of life.

After moving from North Carolina to the Jackson area nearly 20 years ago, she worked in the counseling office at Jackson Academy. When her first son was born, she came home to focus on raising their family. She and Lee have 3 sons and are active members of Pinelake Church in Madison.

Leah Vernon

M.A., L.P.C.

A native Jacksonian, Leah has been working to serve her community through counseling since 1992. Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Leah views counseling as an ideal conduit for God to bring healing and hope.

A graduate of Samford University and Reformed Theological Seminary, Leah earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. She furthered her training post Master’s at Mississippi College to obtain licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Leah has also completed Level 3 practicum training in Gottman Method couples therapy. After working as the high school guidance counselor at Jackson Academy and starting her family, Leah decided to focus as a private practice clinician. She specializes in working with clients struggling with marital conflict, betrayal, divorce, cancer diagnosis/treatment, trauma, depression, anxiety, infertility, addiction, grief, abuse, adolescent adjustment and women’s issues.

Lisa Owens

M.S., L.P.C., N.C.C., C.C.M.H.C., B.C. -TMH

Lisa is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a National Board Certified Counselor (NCC), a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), and a Board Certified TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH). She enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families. She has a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling.

Her background includes working on a church staff, teaching in a college on the mission field, working as a foster parent at a children’s home, working in the medical field and in corporate sales, and being a small business owner. While raising her children, Lisa also invested her time in mentoring relationships. Lisa’s work in business has given her insight into work-related issues and career decisions. She has decades of experience in resolving difficult individual, family, business and church relationships. She works to use the most appropriate method with those experiencing anxiety, depression, grief, family conflict, parenting struggles, blended family, and age-related issues.

Lisa has been married for 45 years and enjoys spending time with her family and being a big part of the lives of her six grandchildren. She also enjoys traveling, cooking, swimming, hiking, and cycling.

Morgan Harris

Ed.S, L.P.C., R.P.T., N.C.C.

Morgan is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Registered Play Therapist (RPT). Morgan attended the University of Mississippi where she received a Bachelor’s in Psychology. She attended Auburn University where she received a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She completed an Education Specialist degree from the University of Mississippi in Play Therapy.

Morgan spent the first 4 years of her career working in community mental health in Jackson Metro area. Working with both the child and adult populations, Morgan’s focus is with children ages 3-20. Morgan is experienced in both individual and family counseling, as well as Play Therapy. Morgan is skilled at working with clients who are experiencing anxiety, depression, oppositional defiance, anger outbursts, trauma and abuse history, psychosis, Tourette’s, the struggles of being in foster care, attachment concerns, substance use, suicidal ideation, and self-harming behaviors.

Because you can’t expect change in a family system by only working with one part of the system, Morgan believes in working with the child, and parents, on a regular basis. Working with children and parents on a regular basis, bridges the gap of communication and understanding, where true healing can occur. Morgan also enjoys working with adults who are experiencing stage of life struggles and substance use. As someone who has suffered with infertility, Morgan is passionate about issues of infertility and the emotional toll that occurs during the infertility process.
Morgan enjoys spending time with her family and husband, Kyle, reading, and cooking. She also enjoys traveling to visit family and friends. Morgan and her husband, Kyle, are active members of First Ridgeland Baptist Church.

Stephanie Wilson

Administrative Assistant

Stephanie worked in the behavioral healthcare field for 23 years predominantly in outreach and crisis intervention for Memorial Behavioral Health, Pine Grove, and Three Oaks Behavioral Health. For approximately 17 of those years, she was licensed as a marriage and family therapist. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi. In 2011, Stephanie felt led to devote more time and energy to her family and community involvement. She is married to Judge Cory Wilson and they have a teenage son. They are active members of Highlands Presbyterian Church.

Tyler Stacy

M.A., L.P.C.

Tyler is from the Jackson, MS area. After graduating from Mississippi State, he served with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) for a year in Salerno, Italy. While in Salerno, he met his wife, Jamie, who is from Orlando, FL. After his time in Italy, he returned to work for his family's business in Jackson. While in Jackson, Tyler and Jamie felt the Lord call them to the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in order to pursue a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

After graduating from seminary, Tyler worked in Louisiana at both a hospice and community counseling agency. It was during this time that Tyler became convinced that it's the relationships we have in life that give life meaning. He enjoys working with individuals, couples, and families in order to help them reach their goals.

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