Adoption Series: Psychodrama, thrown plates and the death of a Koi — Ted Leonhardt

Ted Leonhardt
5 min readJul 24, 2023

He threw the first plate, and it hit the floor, exploding like a shotgun blast. Fear shot through my chest, and I froze.


Over my fifty-plus-year career, I’ve worked as an employee, manager, and owner. I’ve been an illustrator, designer, salesman, strategist, and marketer. And I’ve managed others in those roles. I’ve worked as a consultant inside global corporations and as an outside adviser to people in large and small businesses. Along the way, I’ve had remarkable successes and painful failures.

For the last fifteen-plus years, I’ve worked as an adviser to creatives. As an adviser, I’ve realized that I, too, need to know more about myself and why I am the way I am. Both are why I’m so good at some things and weak in others. To help, I engaged a therapist and spent hundreds of hours intensively focused on gaining self-awareness. It worked, and I feel not only more secure in my self-knowledge but also much better at understanding and helping my clients.

But I have more inner work to do. I’ve learned that group work provides insights beyond those gained through individual therapy, so I attended a day-long psychodrama session with a small group.

Becoming the protagonist

An edginess, instead of the calm I had experienced all morning, came over me. I ran through my mental list of challenges and found nothing new or pressing. I couldn’t fathom what was so unexpectedly troubling, given an experience that seemed to be going so smoothly. I heard my heart, though, stomping away in my chest like an army on the march. And I could smell my own body odor. What’d Robin call it? “Feeling sweat.”

I stepped outside to examine my apprehension, even panic. Feeling a touch of shame with my deodorant not up to the task. The trees were moving softly in the breeze. That was calming. I had no agenda other than the effort at hand. I knew what fear felt like; this was different.

Back inside, Bob asked me if I was ready to be the protagonist.

I said, “yes,” but I had my doubts.

He took my hand and said, “let’s walk together.” And we began to walk around the room in the circle…



Ted Leonhardt

Helping designers and other creative professionals win negotiations. Author, coach, trainer, consultant.