Lessons from Our Alumni: Richard Janka, PsyD (’12)

Our Lessons from Our Alumni Series was inspired by several excellent guest alumni lectures during the 2018/19 academic year. We decided to invite more alums back this year, to share the clinical lessons they have learned with our current students.

Each month, we will invite alumni back to campus who share expertise in a particular clinical issue. Each alum will discuss their experience with the issue, including any research they may have completed at MSP (dissertation, on a research team) or after graduation. 

In October, we shift our focus to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

We are pleased to welcome Richard Janka, PsyD (’12) on October 3 to discuss his dissertation research on PTSD in law enforcement officers. He will also talk about his current practice and his career journey since graduation. If you plan to attend, please RSVP.

Dr. Janka currently practices at Solid Ground Counseling

A Comparison of PTSD Symptoms of Law Enforcement Officers Who Have Responded to Critical Incidents Involving Death


This study examined the question: Which death-related critical incident produces the most symptoms of PTSD? There were 343 officers from local, state, county, and federal departments who were asked to describe their most stressful critical incident involving death. They were also asked to complete a PTSD survey identifying the symptoms they experienced after the incident. The critical incidents studied included fatal accidents, homicides, suicides, natural deaths, and shootings. A review of the literature revealed a paucity of research on specific critical incidents. There was a significant amount of research investigating shootings. However, the more common critical incidents were only minimally represented in the literature. The literature suggested that critical incidents, and more specifically, exposure to death, have the potential to cause symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. The research also suggested that shootings are among the most stressful critical incidents. Participants in the current study reported high levels of PTSD regardless of the type of critical incident. The results of this study indicated there was not a significant difference in PTSD symptoms based on the type of critical incident reported. No group reported significantly more PTSD symptoms than any other group. These findings have implications regarding training, treatment, and research.