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"Turn your wounds into wisdom and your stumbling blocksinto stepping stones." - Robin Sharma
Hands Holding Plant

About Us

 Jessica Hoffman, PhD is a licensed psychologist who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1999 with a BA in Psychology and again in 2005 with her doctorate in School Psychology. She resides in Newton, NC with her husband, Chris, and four children. Dr. Hoffman specializes in helping children cope with stressful life adjustments such as divorce, death, and social changes. She also helps children manage behaviors associated with diagnoses such as ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Developmental Delay. Many of Dr. Hoffman's clients have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders forming an area in which she has gained extensive training. Dr. Hoffman offers ongoing social skills groups designed to help children and adolescents who struggle with developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with others. In addition to therapy services, Dr. Hoffman provides comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational assessment through which a child's specific strengths and weaknesses are explored across several domains (i.e. cognitive, academic, attention, social, emotional). She believes that a collaborative approach is necessary to help children and works diligently to communicate with parents, teachers, physicians, and others who may play a key role in supporting the child's needs. As a mother of four young children, Dr. Hoffman understands many of the realities of parenting and strives to make recommendations accordingly. She takes a hands-on approach to working with children that may involve going for a stroll to talk or that may include her chocolate Lab, Theodore, in session. She believes in stepping "out of the box" with regard to therapy in order to improve outcomes and to make the process toward change a positive one. Dr. Hoffman is a member of the American Psychological Association, the North Carolina Pschological Association, and the Catawba Valley Association of Counselors and Therapists. 

 Lynn Mullinax, NCC, LPC practices as a licensed professional counselor and as a nationally certified counselor. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke Univeristy and a Master of Arts degree in counseling from Appalachain State University. Lynn began her counseling career in the middle and high school settings as a school counselor where she focused on the academic, social, and emotional development of adolescents. Since entering private practice in 2003, she has worked with clients of all ages from children and adolescents to adults. Here at Stepping Stones, she provides counseling services for primarily adolescents and adults as individuals, couples, or families. Topics that are addressed in sessions include: anxiety, depression, anger, relationships, trauma, grief or loss, separation or divorce, stress, and eating disorders. No matter what client she has in session, Lynn focuses on creating a comfortable and safe environment where the patient feels unconditionally accepted and can discuss any concerns, needs, or challenges in life. All sessions are conducted with sensitivity, understanding, and a commitment to helping clients develop their strengths and lead more satisfying lives.


 Sara Hassett, MA, LPCA, NCC practices at Stepping Stones of Newton, PA. Sara is a board certified licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified counselor. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Marietta College and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lenoir Rhyne University. Sara did her internship and practicum with the Cognitive Connection for a year and a half. Her experience includes assessment and working with adults dealing with: substance abuse, anxiety, depression, stress, adjustment/transition, grief and loss, time management, relationships, family conflict, self-esteem and work-related issues in both individual and groups in an outpatient setting. She also has experience facilitating counseling. Sara also worked as an interim elementary school counselor. As school counselor, she worked with students dealing with anxiety, depression, grief and social issues. She aided in the school's utilization of Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). She also assisted in the implementation of 504 meetings. Sara's approach to counseling helps clients examine and understand the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behavior choices. She works with clients to specify goals and develop a plan to create positive change in client's lives.

 Candace Childers, MA,LPA in Clinical Psychology is a licensed psychological associate who specializes in counseling and psychoeducational evaluations of children. Candace is blessed to be a mother of two young adults who will always be her proudest achievement in life. She graduated with her BA in Psychology from DePauw University and her MA in Clinical Psychology from Western Carolina University. She brings to this practice 25 years of experience evaluating, diagnosing, and coordinating treatment for children with a variety of developmental and learning disabilities. She specializes in evaluating and diagnosing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and other learning disabilities to help promote effective therapeutic services for them. Ms. Childers also helps children and their families manage behaviors associated with family stressors, anger, loss, and depression. Play therapy is often used to help children express their thoughts and emotions and learn appropriate manners of relating to others. Her goal as a therapist is to form a bridge of communication between parents and their children so that they can learn to handle stressful situations in a healthy manner and grow closer as a family.


 Vanessa C Short, MA/CAS, LPA, PsyD. Vanessa is married. She and her husband have three children, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. She has over 30 years experience in psychology. She has worked in public school, college, clinical, and group settings. Her experience has included psychological evaluations, individual and group counseling, social skills support groups, and teaching at a college level. She assists with evaluations, observations, and diagnostic interpretations of assessments at Stepping Stones.