Jan Canty in blue shirt

What I Do #7: Jan Canty, psychologist, advocate, and author

(Article by Aaron Jacklin | published 28 Feb 2024 | source: https://aaronjacklin.substack.com/p/what-i-do-7-jan-canty-psychologist)

I was recently interviewed by Aaron Jacklin from Explaining Crime, “an independent newsletter that helps you explain crime to your audience.” Here’s a short excerpt of the article and a link to read the full article.

What do you do?

I’m a psychologist and an advocate for other so-called homicide survivors. I can speak to this subjectively and professionally. (“Homicide survivor” is a term used to describe people whose lives have been turned upside down due to murder of a person or persons they loved.)

Who is your audience?

The focus of my work is with other homicide-survivors, their supporters and people whose professions we cross paths with – such as homicide detectives, forensic investigators, crime scene cleanup crews, funeral directors, crime journalists, district attorneys and health care providers.

What are the most useful tools in your work?

Networking is my most useful tool. There is little to no “cross-talk” between all of the change agents homicide survivors must interact with. It is fractured. Networking helps address this. Detectives know little about homicide survivor support groups to refer people to. Grief therapists have little understanding of what prosecutors do, so aren’t in a great position to help us anticipate upcoming court hearings. We are in the center of this network and must coordinate with all the change agents at the very time when we are overcome with grief, fatigue, fear and stigma. It’s a steep learning curve. So, the most useful tool I believe I offer is facilitation between these various factions.

The need for coordination between all these change agents is especially critical for orphaned young adults who are unprepared to manage adulthood as a result of the loss of their parents and whose peers are of little help. (Recommended reading “Beautiful Ashes” by Shelley Edwards-Jorgensen).

Who or what are the most useful sources of information in your work?

Other homicide survivors and experienced professionals directly involved in dealing with death are very useful (as opposed to those in academia or true crime podcasters and most journalists). There is no substitute for first-person information. A great book addressing the need for change in crime reporting is from Tamara Cherry entitled “The Trauma Beat.”

What’s your process?

I find ideas from the news, from support groups and guests on my podcast. From there I decide what is the best format for this idea. Social media? Book chapter? Podcast Interview? I will then research the idea in depth and begin formulating my ideas. For example, the topic of forgiveness of the perpetrator came up during a podcast interview. I developed a blog article entitled “Forgive the Murderer of our Loved One?” It’s not unusual to re-purpose a topic idea in another setting.

What’s the key to getting through to your audience?

What now book - 3D book image cover

Trust and personal experience. Once people understand that my interest in murder’s aftermath isn’t academic or voyeuristic, but that it springs from personal experience and professional knowledge of human behavior, doors open.


If you are a homicide survivor and need help navigating the aftermath, get the book What Now? Navigating the Aftermath of Homicide and Suicide.