Marianne and her family emigrated to England from Dresden in 1937, when she was fifteen. She saw herself as doubly fortunate – saved both from the Nazi destruction of the Jews and from the later Allied bombing that razed Dresden.
She trained as a psychiatric social worker, working with families and individuals, and worked in the NHS for 15 years. After Kleinian analysis she worked psychodynamically and also studied at the Tavistock Institute, the Cardiff Institute of Family Therapy and did T-group training. Later she became drawn towards Gestalt for the way it encouraged therapists to be more present with clients.
After training as a Gestalt Psychotherapist, Marianne worked with people across the world. She worked in Germany with the children and grandchildren of Nazi parents and relatives. She facilitated residential groups in various countries. She helped establish the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute and Gestalt South West in Britain and the Gestalt Education Network International in Europe. Marianne worked with Gestalt training institutes across the world.
Marianne’s core principle was for the therapist to be authentically present. She believed that therapists need to accept that they cannot always get it right and need to own this, as the therapist’s mistakes can be useful if worked with. She believed that the true value of therapy is in the quality of the therapist’s presence that enables relational work to develop and true contact to be made. She also believed in exploring our connections with each other, individually and culturally, and what gets in the way – including speaking about those issues that feel difficult to us. Only through dialogue can we truly connect.
Marianne was interested in expanding out into the world rather than closing inwards. She often worked with polarities in supporting people to explore beyond their narrow views and experiences to consider the wider field. She became interested in many world religions and spiritual practices, which informed her presence and therapeutic approach.
One of the motives behind offering the Marianne Fry Lectures is to continue her work in supporting therapists to expand their understanding of themselves and their relationships with clients in the context of the wider field.
An interview of Marianne Fry by Judith Hemming, published in the British Gestalt Journal in 1993, is available here.
Her obituary, including a memoir from colleagues in Germany, appeared in British Gestalt Journal 1998 vol. 7, no. 1, pp.3-7.