A Note from Arlene

Arlene Harder

Welcome to the Support4Change Blog!

I have had a continuous online presence for more than sixteen years with four websites, the last of which was Support4Change. Now I am in the process of bringing many of my previous articles here to my blog.

If you would like to learn more about me, please visit my bio page. If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, you can do so here.


Transformation Now! (or maybe later) 

Explore how we progress toward change by negotiating five discrete stages, from our “comfort zone” to a place where we are able to maintain momentum for change.

In the January/February 2002 edition of Psychotherapy Networker there is an article by the name I’ve given this title. It appeared in a feature called “From Research to Practice” and discussed a large cross-sectional study of 3,000 people. What they found was very interesting. We generally do not enter therapy to actively resolve our problems, reduce our symptoms and retool our lives. Rather, we tend to negotiate five discrete stages as we progress toward change. Read More

When I Am Gone

This poem of the world we leave behind can encourage us to take good care of the earth for future generations.


If the Portuguese sailors on Mauritius in 1600 could see into the future, they would have hesitated before wiping out those queer dodo birds. But our lifespans fit into no more than 70 or 80 or 90 years.

Had they been able to visualize the need for their descendants to see these delightfully incongruous birds alive, they might have saved a few for us. But one of the reasons we are short-sighted is because our lives are relatively short. Thus we are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during our lifespan and are short-sighted because our lives are relatively short. We are predisposed to focus only on what is happening during those 70 or 80 or 90 years from our birth to our death. Read More

The Marriage Contract Game

If you are having a conflict with your spouse, it may be time to look at the expectations of your invisible marriage contract.

Chess king and pawns.jpgAs noted in last week’s post, Marriage’s Invisible Contract, when we agree to marry or to live together, we all have expectations concerning what we’re willing to give our partner, as well as what we want to get from him or her. Whether verbalized or not, these assumptions fall into three general categories that frequently are sources of marital and personal trouble if they aren’t understood by both people.

You can play the Marriage Contract Game by printing two copies of this page and having each of you look carefully through the sample statements and questions, exploring which ones are part of what you each believe is in your contract. Especially notice the ones about which you feel strongly, as they are ones most likely to cause trouble if they conflict with the expectations of your partner. Read More

Marriage’s Invisible Contract

Behind every marriage lay unspoken expectations that may only be vaguely understood by the spouses, but which can cause much distress.


When satisfaction or security of another person becomes as significant to one’s own satisfaction or security, then love exists.  — Harry Stack-Sullivan

Did you know there’s a contract hidden behind the marriage license? That’s right. When you sign your marriage license you THINK you’re agreeing to the same thing to which the other person agrees. But like millions of couples before you, it won’t be long before you’ll discover you were mistaken.

You see, we all enter into marriage (or agree to live together forever outside a legally sanctioned union) with the assumption that the other person knows the ground rules as we understand them. These assumptions are not written down, of course, although some of them are discussed in the process of dating and in deciding that you want to be a couple. The rest (especially those that can later cause a peck of troubles) are kept firmly stored in your mind. In fact, you aren’t even clearly aware of some of them. Nevertheless, they are powerful blueprints you expect to follow as you go through life together. Read More

Perfectionist Personality Self-test

Want to know if you are a member of the Practicing Perfectionist Society?

Soft ruler.jpg

Take the test below to see whether you believe you have to do a “perfect” job in almost everything you do, even though it often isn’t required. Designed by a recovering perfectionist, these questions can give you a perspective on the topic you may not have had.

As you ask yourself the following questions, pay particular attention to the “why” of your answer.

  • Do I like to prove my value as a person by showing others I am totally competent at some task? [yes/no]

Why? Read More