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.

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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…

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Ted Leonhardt

Helping designers and other creative professionals win negotiations. Author, coach, trainer, consultant. http://www.tedleonhardt.com