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Montreal Gazette

Yes, Life Is But A Dream
by Susan Schwartz

Counselor helps interpret meaning

– For most of the time we’re sleeping at night, we’re dreaming. Our dreams are chiefly about something with which we are preoccupied, perhaps unconsciously, expressions of our deeper selves.

– And the best way to understand dreams is to want to, says Montrealer Layne Dalfen, who helps people to find out more about their dreams.

– Dalfen, 48, has been studying dreams and dream-interpretation for a long time. Her interest grew out of years of analysis in which she used her dreams as the primary tool of communication with her analyst. “I couldn’t articulate my feelings, but I always remembered my dreams.” she said.

– Analysis taught her enough about looking inward that she wanted to learn more. She earned a certificate as a Gestalt counselor and studied dreams at the Alfred Adler Institute. As people started to ask her about their dreams, she came to realize that, apart from psychics and therapy, people had less opportunity to find out more about their dreams.

– “I saw a niche”, she said. As the founder of the Dream Interpretation Center, Dalfen does telephone and private consultations, and gives lectures and workshops. Her knowledgeable, warm manner, brimming with insight and empathy, makes her a popular guest on radio phone-in-programs in Montreal and New York.


– On Friday, Dalfen starts a regular monthly stint on Montreal radio, on CJAD’s Up Late With Lisa.

– Understanding our dreams can help us to figure out why we’re thinking something, and maybe, ultimately, to understand ourselves better, she said. Earlier this year, when Dalfen was a guest on CBC Radio’s Radio Noon, a caller named Danielle described a dream in which an angel had appeared at her window, soft and peaceful looking; she said she wasn’t ready to go, that she had to phone her friend first. When she tried in her dream, however, she couldn’t get through.

– Dalfen observed that Danielle’s tone had changed as she recounted the dream-from curiosity to surprise to panic. Had something like that happened in Danielle’s own life? “Definitely,” she said. A romantic involvement and that’s exactly how it happened.

– So Danielle had connected to the first level of the dream, Dalfen said. “If you want to look on a deeper level, you might look at whether this has repeated itself in your life; maybe the dream comes to you because you want to do some work on that.”

– Dalfen uses different points of entry, as she terms them, in her work. Feelings are one. A man who’d had a dream with dogs in it said dogs made him feel happy, for instance, and reminded him of his childhood. Symbols are another point of entry. To some, a dog represents a beast; to others, a dog means loyalty.

– Another point of entry is play on words: Dalfen said she once dreamed she was drawing on her daughter-literally, with crayons. It was a stressful period for her and there was value in learning she could lean on her family. Sometimes, she said, she calls her husband Andrew by the name Drew.


– Some sentiments come as pictures, said Dalfen, recalling a dream one woman recounted in which snakes all over the floor meant she couldn’t put her feet on the floor. Truth was, she was having trouble putting her foot down in her relationships with others.

– “The dream is all you and different aspects of your own psyche,” she said: we’re born with the ability to be many different things: assertive, shy happy and angry; along the way, we learn it is better to be one way, so we become over-invested in some elements of our personality, under-invested in others.

– For someone who has trouble speaking up, for instance, whose natural way is not to be verbal, a dead aunt who was comfortable with expressing herself turning up in a dream could represent that sleeping part of your psyche.

– If you are interested in remembering more about your dreams, Dalfen suggests, leave a pen and paper beside the bed. You might remember only fragments at first. With time, you’ll get better at it-and know more about what you’re really thinking and feeling.

* Layne Dalfen will be on with Lisa the last Saturday of each month on CJAD (AM 800), from 11:00 p.m. until midnight. Her Web site is

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