Making Meaning and Writing Toward Posttraumatic Growth with Lennie Echterling

Promo graphic for Writing Your Resilience Episode Sixteen Making Meaning and Writing Toward Posttraumatic Growth includes photo on the left of the host Lisa Cooper Ellison a middle-aged white woman with silver curly hair wearing a blue dress and on the left guest Lennie Echterling, a middle-aged white man with gray hair wearing a suit with a blue shirt and yellow tie.

About Making Meaning and Writing Toward Posttraumatic Growth with Lennie Echterling

Lennie Echterling joins the Writing Your Resilience podcast to talk about the lessons he learned from landmine survivors, the difference between empathy and toxic positivity, the importance of fostering your posttraumatic growth, and how to use writing to build your resilience.



Transcript for Making Meaning and Writing Toward Posttraumatic

Please note: This transcript has been edited for clarity and flow.

[00:00:00] I met Lenny Echterling in 2009 when I entered the graduate program in Counseling Psychology at James Madison University. In fact, Lenny’s work in crisis intervention was one of the reasons why I chose this program.

[00:00:12] Lenny has more than 40 years of experience in promoting resilience, particularly during crises and disasters. He’s worked with landmine survivors in the Middle East and has served as a crisis counselor, consultant, and trainer following some of the world’s biggest disasters, including hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami in India, the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, and the shooting at Virginia Tech just to name a few.

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Show Notes for Making Meaning and Writing Toward Posttraumatic Growth with Lennie Echterling

Lennie Echterling joins the Writing Your Resilience podcast to talk about the lessons he learned from landmine survivors, the difference between empathy and toxic positivity, the importance of fostering your posttraumatic growth, and how to use writing to build your resilience. 

As you listen along, here are a few questions to ponder: Have you ever been a victim of toxic positivity or felt like people dismiss your pain? Has being dismissed made it more difficult to trust others? Have you heard the phrase posttraumatic growth and wondered what it means? In what ways have you grown as a result of your challenges? 

Lennie’s Bio: Lennie Echterling, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus at James Madison University. He has more than 40 years of experience in promoting resilience, particularly during crises and disasters. He served as crisis counselor, consultant, and trainer following many traumatic stress events, including tornadoes and floods throughout the United States, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami in India, the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon, the shootings at Virginia Tech, and landmine explosions in the Middle East. His books include “Crisis Intervention: Building Resilience in Troubled Times” and “Thriving.” His awards include JMU’s Distinguished Faculty Award, Virginia Counselors Association’s Humanitarian Award, Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award, Virginia Counselors Career Service Award, the national Counseling Vision and Innovation Award, and the Magis Medal, an international award presented by the Jesuit Honor Society. With Dr. Rebecca Milner, he currently is writing an updated edition of “Crisis Intervention,” which will be published this fall.

Resources mentioned during this episode: 

Episode Highlights

  • 4:41 Lessons from Landmine Survivors  
  • 10:00 Triggers for Resilience
  • 15:00 The Problem of Toxic Positivity
  • 22:00 The Power of Being with Another Person’s Story
  • 27:00 The Struggle to Trust
  • 30:00 Embracing and Exploring the Chaos Story
  • 35:00 The Role of Neuroplasticity in Storytelling
  • 38:00 Lessons Learned from Final Conversations
  • 47:00 The Power of Expressing Gratitude  
  • 54:40 Lennie’s Best Writing Advice
  • 56:20 Lennie’s Resilience Practice

Connect with Lennie: 

Connect with your host, Lisa:

Sign up for Psychology of Character Development for Memoirists: https://janefriedman.com/the-psychology-of-character-development-for-memoirists-with-lisa-cooper-ellison/

Produced by Espresso Podcast Production: https://www.espressopodcastproduction.com



About Your Host


Lisa Cooper Ellison is an author, speaker, and trauma-informed writing coach with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art, and currently teaches courses in memoir, the psychology of writing, and the book proposal. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Huffpost PostHippocampus Literary Magazine, and Kenyon Review Online, among others. 


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