Nightmare Turned Into Dream Job
by Stephanie Whittaker
Name: Layne Dalfen
Position: Dream analyst
Salary: Would not say
Vacation: Two weeks per year
Education: Certificate in Gestalt therapy, studies in dream work at Alfred Adler Institute
First job: Secretary
Personal info: Married, four children, one granddaughter and another grandchild on the way, enjoys walking, doing puzzles and playing Scrabble
If I could, I would: “Have my own reality TV show.”
Career path: Funny how life prepares us for our careers. Layne Dalfen got into her unusual gig as a dream analyst through personal difficulty.
After marrying at, Dalfen gave birth to the first of her four daughters.
“The baby had Down’s syndrome and, as was typical in those days, our doctor told me to give her up and have her placed in an institution.”
Dalfen followed her doctor’s advice but woke up one morning two months later in deep sadness.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” she said.
She would later track down her baby and begin a lifelong relationship with her, but first, she began consulting Nathan Wisebord, a Freudian psychiatrist.
Had her own dreams analyzed: “I was 21 years old and unable to articulate my feelings,” Dalfen said. “So instead, I would talk to him about my dreams. It was the first time I learned that we could solve our problems through our dreams. Dream analysis is an investigation, like solving a puzzle. You attach the dream to the problem”
Dalfen was treated by Wisebord for eight years.
“Eighty per cent of it was dream analysis,” she said. “I always say that I didn’t study Freud at university. I experienced Freud in my life.”
Began to study psychology: It led her to study the Gestalt therapy of Frederick Perls at the Gestalt Counselling Centre in Montreal, where she enrolled in a three-year certificate program.
“Gestalt is about understanding why we respond as we do and taking responsibility for those responses,” she said.
“Perls looked at all parts of a dream as representing different parts of the psyche.”
Still had no professional aspirations: But Dalfen didn’t have a career plan; she was studying Gestalt out of personal interest.
“At that time, I was also doing amateur musical theatre,” she said, adding that she also gave birth to two more daughters. “At 30, I divorced my husband.”
Started her own business: The idea for a business came to her at a shopping centre.
“I used to put my children on those old carousel horse kiddy rides that you had in shopping centres, the same kind I had ridden as a kid in the 1950s,” she said.
“I started doing research on more interesting kiddy rides and found some fibreglass ones in England. I bought the exclusive rights to distribute them in Canada. They were helicopters and spaceships. And that’s when I established Kiddy Rides Canada, which I ran through the ’80s.”
Within a decade, Dalfen had placed 600 kiddy ride machines in shopping centres across the country.
Continued her studies: “All the while, I was studying dreams in the background,” she said. “I remarried at 35 and began wanting another baby. And I knew I didn’t want to be running my company with a baby. So I sold off the company, province by province over four years and had a baby in 1993.”
She had also completed a series of master’s level dreamwork courses at the Adler Institute.
“Around 1995, I suddenly became compelled to share with the public what I knew about dream analysis,” she said.
“You can access your own subconscious anytime you want. And who is better to give you advice about something that’s bugging you than yourself?” she said.
Dreams are coded messages, which, once decoded can be used to create greater self-awareness and insight.
Set out to market her dream analyst skills: Dalfen approached the creation of a new career in dream analysis the way she had run her business. She called a large advertising firm and persuaded one of its vice-presidents to give her a consultation on how she could market her services.
“He told me to get on radio. So I started promoting myself at CJAD.
“I also attended a radio convention in New Orleans where I got gigs like crazy and placed ads in a radio trade magazine. I’ve since been on 75 radio shows.
“Often on the radio, I may be speaking to people calling in on the ‘drive to work’ morning shows in some city in Minnesota or Iowa or Saskatchewan, and they don’t know that I am sitting here in my pyjamas at my desk drinking a coffee,” she said.
A producer suggested she write a book about dreams.
Wrote a book: “So I wrote Dreams Do Come True, found a publisher in Boston and it was published in 2002,” she said.
Dalfen also began counselling individuals, selling columns to Canadian Living online and working as a guest speaker at Canyon Ranch Spa in Arizona and Massachusetts.
Recently, she was taped in Toronto for a television program called Three Takes, to be aired on Life Network, and will host the 2008 conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Montreal.
Teaches workshops: She has also marketed her way to teaching workshops at the Natural Health Consultants Institute and the Institute of Energetic Healing, both in N.D.G. She lectures counselling students at Concordia University and teaches workshops in her home and at Harmoni Holistic Health Centre in Kirkland. She also writes articles for Body and Soul magazine and has been interviewed by other magazines for her dream analysis expertise.
Planning for the future: Her next goal is to find a business partner.
“I want someone with imagination or connections or capital to help me move my career to the next level.”
That’s her big dream right now.
If you want to be a dream analyst, don’t quit your day job, counsels Dalfen.
“This is not a big living.”
Consider studying dream analysis if you’re training to be a psycho-therapist or counsellor.
“Psychology degrees don’t focus on dream analysis.”
Check out the website of the International Association for the Study of Dreams at www.asdreams.org for resources.
Start questioning the content of your own dreams and take courses in dream analysis.
“I also teach 18-hour dream courses.”