Lewis-Clark State graduate Jarrod Hansen chases his new dream of counseling others

Jarrod Hansen has been on a long journey to find a career that brings him joy. After moving to Sandpoint in 2002 and graduating high school the next year, the San Diego transplant tried a variety of jobs over a dozen or so years, including lumberyard work, tile installer, firefighting, and the military.

“I wanted to be happy in what I was doing and feel like I was making a difference, and I just wasn’t finding that,” Hansen said.

It turns out that coaching his son’s team and serving on the Coeur d’Alene Amateur Hockey Association board of directors was what he needed.

“I just fell in love with working with the kids, and not just working with them on the ice, but talking to them about what was going on with their lives,” Hansen said. “And the kids seemed to really connect with me and care about what I had to say. I was developing a lot of positive relationships with the kids and within the organization. I wanted more of that.”

“There was just so much I wanted to do and social work encompassed a lot of it and gave me a lot more options than just counseling,” Jarrod Hansen said of his decision to pursue degrees in social work.

That revelation and his own personal experience of seeing a counselor pointed him toward counseling. With a wife and two children at home, Hansen, in his 30s, enrolled at Lewis-Clark State College and began the next step of his journey. After a few years at the college, he received a scholarship funded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health that’s given to deserving students pursuing healthcare-related fields. He majored in social work.

Hansen impressed Dr. LaChelle Rosenbaum, the social work program director at LCSC. She also was his research instructor for two semesters.

“He has an inquisitive nature that allows him to excel beyond just finding the answer and filling in the blank,” Rosenbaum said. “Critical thinking is very important in social work because you are trying to solve unique problems for people within systems. He is very articulate and was ready to ask challenging and well-thought-out questions that allowed him to dig deeper into interventions implemented in a more thoughtful and knowledgeable way.”

Hansen’s friend, Barb Peruse, is a mental health therapist in Sandpoint. They met at a volunteer event around the time he was thinking about going to college for social work. She said he checks all the boxes of what’s needed to be a great therapist, most notably great listening skills.

“It’s crucial to know yourself and be grounded to support others,” Peruse said. “He’s so neat and gentle. He’s clever and has real-life experience. He has all the things you need to be a great therapist. I would send anyone to him. We can’t wait until he’s ready to take referrals.”

That real-life experience Peruse mentions is true. Hansen enlisted in the Army and turned 26 on his second day of basic training. Volunteer firefighting and those other attempted vocations also helped shape him.

Jarrod Hansen is enrolled at Boise State University where he is pursuing his master’s degree in social work online. That allows him to spend time with son Jacob, daughter Charlee and wife Kelli.

“I’m thankful for it, and there’s been a lot of challenges in there,” he said. “Life wasn’t easy by any means, but it made me who I am today and I know because of those experiences that I’m much more aware and balanced. I just want to keep growing.”

Hansen graduated from LCSC in May and is now enrolled in a master’s program at Boise State University. He is earning the degree online, which allows him to spend time with his wife, Kelli, who works part-time as a nurse at Bonner General Hospital and sometimes as a traveling nurse. They have two children, Jacob (16) and Charlee (8).

“I encouraged him to continue his education with a masters and even a doctorate, because he has that level of critical thinking,” Dr. Rosenbaum said. “He will excel in any field within social work because of the way he sees solutions. His potential is endless.”

That’s exciting for Hansen, now 37.

“Once I figured out that I wanted to do this, it was just strange. It was a different kind of motivation I hadn’t felt before,” he said. “Social work is the first thing in my life where I’m like ‘wow.’ I have not questioned this decision once.”