GriefSPEAK: The Blanket Effect – Mari Nardolillo Dias, EdD

by Mari Nardolillo Dias, EdD, contributing writer on grief and grieving

Many people still feel uncomfortable going to therapy. Perhaps a stigma is still attached to the process? I receive at least a half dozen calls a day from people who found me on Psychology Today. And they hang up! Because their information comes up on the website, (name, etc), I return the call. They stutter and seem panicked in an attempt to walk back their call. And then I provide a prompt. “Tell me your story”. This results in a detailed life review, along with a full information about the loss and death. And we make an appointment.

I understand how the idea of therapy may result in fear: after all, if you trust your therapist you engage in sharing very personal information. Secrets. Thoughts and feelings you have never shared with anyone, not even yourself. Yet, secrets make us sick and keep us sick. Fortunately, once they are verbalized and shared, they can never be secret again.

You will know if you have a good therapist by the blanket effect. Remember when you were young, and being swaddled and blanketed in the safe lap of a parent or guardian? Think about how safe you felt. You probably felt comfort, trust, and a level of safety that resulted in a “sigh.” All is right with the world. And if it’s not, I am protected.

This is how one should feel in a therapy session. A metaphorical blanket, soft and warm, bundled in an aura of safety and security. Free to share without any judgment, chastisement or derogatory insinuations.

If you take the opportunity to seek out a therapist, make sure there is a blanket effect. If none, change therapists. They are out there. I know. I trained them.


To read more articles by Dr. Dias, go here:


Dr. Mari Nardolillo Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.

She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to: