Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy

Box 15211, Abilene, Texas  79698-5211, USA | Telephone: +1 (325) 692-9597 | Fax: +1 (325) 692-9188


History of the Institute

In 1965, Viktor E. Frankl, M.D., Ph.D., presented a lecture at the Unitarian Church of Berkeley, California. In his audience was Joseph Fabry, formerly of Vienna. Years earlier, Fabry had earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Vienna.  Being Jewish, Fabry had attempted to flee from the Nazis, but was arrested and held in a detention camp in Belgium.

Fabry came to the United States in 1938, and became a scriptwriter for the Office of War Information (later the Voice of America) in New York. In 1940, Fabry moved to Berkeley where he became an editor for the University of California Press.

The 1965 encounter with Viktor Frankl changed Joseph Fabry’s perspective on life, and he began to pursue his personal study into the life and work of Viktor Frankl. Gradually, a close personal bond and productive friendship developed, lasting until Frankl’s death in 1997, and Fabry’s death in 1999.

Working closely with Frankl, Fabry became the spokesperson in North America for Frankl’s existential, humanistic theory known as Logotherapy. Particularly interested in helping Logotherapy become available to the layperson, Fabry wrote
Guideposts to Meaning, a way of “discovering what really matters in life.”  Fabry’s Pursuit of Meaning, subsequently translated into nine languages, is regarded by many as the dissemination of Frankl’s teachings for the English speaking world, particularly the North American mind and mentality.

Over the years, Fabry edited, wrote, translated, and taught. He brought together people from around the world who were interested in studying and promoting the work of Viktor Frankl. In 1977, Joseph Fabry was one of the facilitators of a two-day celebration with Viktor Frankl, the Festival of Meaning, where Dr. Frankl addressed 6,000 people in Zellerbach Auditorium on the University of California campus in Berkeley. It was on this occasion that Joseph Fabry presented to Professor Frankl the Albert Schweitzer “Reverence of Life” Award. In his presentation, Fabry said, “You have shown that reverence of life is the deepest meaning a human being can achieve. You have almost single-handedly rehumanized psychotherapy. You have dared to introduce the human spirit into therapy and to make the resources of the human spirit the medicine chest of mental health.” Survivor of four Nazi prison camps, Dr. Frankl responded, “I accept this award as a witness to what might be considered as history’s most monstrous violation of reverence of life.”

This occasion, February 17, 1977, also marked the inauguration of the
Viktor E. Frankl Library and Memorabilia at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Known informally as the Viktor Frankl Archives, this monumental work was established by Robert Leslie, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Dean of the Pacific School of Religion. Among Frankl’s numerous, distinguished awards later to be noted among the memorabilia was one that was particularly treasured by Dr. Frankl, the American Psychiatric Association’s Oskar Phister Award for Frankl’s “Outstanding Contributions to the Fields and Interfaces of Psychiatry and Religion.”

By 1977, Joseph Fabry was holding organizational meetings in his home in El Cerrito, California, and later in the home of Bianca Zwang Hirsch, Ph.D., in San Francisco. Fabry began bringing together those who were interested in establishing what was subsequently incorporated on February 14, 1978, as the Institute of Logotherapy. The Institute’s first office included facilities rented from the Unitarian Church in Berkeley, and often staffed by Stefan Samuel Kalmar, Ph.D., and his wife Vera Lieban-Kalmar, Ed.D.  It was Dr. Vera Leiban-Kalmar who began developing the Institute’s curriculum for teaching Frankl’s Logotherapy, while serving as the first chairperson of the Institute’s Education and Credentialing Committee.

As Executive Director of the Institute, Fabry urged Willis Finck to succeed Manfred Behrens, who had served as the Institute’s first President. Following Finck’s tenure as President, he became the Institute’s Executive Director. Fabry and the Institute’s Board of Directors established
The International Forum for Logotherapy, which obtained its copyright in 1984.  Joseph Fabry served as Co-Editor of the Forum until 1999, along with Robert Hutzell, Ph.D., who continues as Editor-in-Chief.

Serving now in a senior advisory capacity, Willis Finck remained as Executive Director until 1995. For many years, his wife and professional partner, Margaret Davis-Finck, served the Board as Treasurer and the Institute as one of its staunchest supporters. It was not only the Fincks’ gifts of leadership that directed and sustained the Institute, but also their personal and monetary gifts such as bringing Viktor and Elly Frankl to the United States on the British Airways’ Concorde so the Frankls could participate in the Eighth World Congress on Logotherapy in San Jose, California, in 1991.

Dr. Bianca Hirsch, scholar, academician, and Logotherapist, became President of the Institute of Logotherapy in the mid-1980s. It was during her tenure as President that the Board of Directors and its Executive Director that she obtained official consent from Viktor Frankl to use his name as part of the Institute’s name. Thus, in 1989, at the Seventh World Congress on Logotherapy, held in Kansas City, Missouri, the Institute officially became the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy.

During this time, Professor Frankl credited James Crumbaugh, Ph.D., and Crumbaugh’s professional colleague, Rosemary Henrion, MSN, with bringing Frankl’s work into the scientific arena in the United States. Rosemary Henrion succeeded Vera Lieban-Kalmar as Chairperson of the Institute’s Education and Credentialing Committee. Dr. Crumbaugh of Gulfport, Mississippi, James Yoder, Ph.D., of Kansas City, Kansas, and Mignon Eisenberg, Ph.D., of Chicago, Illinois, became Regional Directors for the Institute. Subsequently establishing residence in Haifa, Israel, Dr. Eisenberg was instrumental in establishing the Israeli Institute of Logotherapy.

In 1993, at the Ninth World Congress on Logotherapy held in Toronto, Robert C. Barnes, Ph.D., was elected President of the International Board of Directors of the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. The A.B. Shelton Professor and Chairman of the Department of Counseling and Human Development at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, Barnes had previously served as Chairman of the Institute’s Education and Credentialing Committee, and, since 1990, as Vice-President of the Board.

Robert C. Barnes, Ph.D. is currently serving his tenth two-year term as President. The International Board of Directors was re-constituted into an Executive Council, along with At-Large members, the latter serving primarily in an advisory capacity. Throughout Barnes’ tenure, the Executive Council has been composed of individuals who bring to the Board a wealth of leadership ability from their own professional backgrounds. The Institute’s Vice President is Manoochehr Khatami, M.D., Chief of Psychiatry and Medical Director of Psychiatric Services at Dallas’ St. Paul Medical Center, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center Southwestern Medical School. Dorothy C. Barnes, Ed.D., Professor of Counseling and Human Development and of Health Education at Hardin-Simmons University, serves the Executive Council as secretary. The treasurer is Patricia L. Starck, DSN, the John P. McGovern Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Chairman of the Institute’s Education and Credentialing Committee is Cynthia Wimberly, Ph.D., Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Texas Pan America.

During Dr. Barnes’ presidency, the Institute’s membership has expanded into more than 40 countries on six continents. Barnes has led a concentrated effort to update and standardize the Institute’s educational curriculum and requirements for achieving the Academic Associate in Logotherapy, and the Diplomate/Clinician and Diplomate/Educator-Administrator credentials. The Institute’s faculty members are Board approved, and each one meets the requirements of such professional organizations as the American Psychological Association, the National Board of Certified Counselors, other prestigious professional organizations, as well as state licensing boards that approve the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy as a provider of Continuing Education for psychologists, psychiatrists and other physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, and related therapists.

In addition to numerous on-site Continuing Education workshops and seminars that have been conducted for unprecedented hundreds of participants over the last decade, the Institute began in 1994 to develop a Distance Learning opportunity of the highest quality for presenting its educational curriculum worldwide under the leadership of Ann V. Graber, Ph.D., who serves as the Institute’s Director of Distance Learning.  Under Dr. Graber’s guidance, Dr. Cynthia Wimberly and Dr. Anne-Marie Neale have joined the distance learning faculty. To date, distance learners have successfully completed the Institute’s courses in numerous countries representing the following areas: North and South America, Africa, Israel, Australia, and numerous European countries.

Academic assistance continues to be provided by the Institute to numerous individuals who are completing doctoral dissertations in the work of Viktor Frankl and Logotherapy, and to many other students in their research in high schools, colleges, universities and graduate schools around the world, as well as to faculty members at many universities and medical schools.

With the vision and financial patronage of Irmeli Ivalo-Sjolie of Helsinki, Finland, a Curriculum Revision Subcommittee was organized in 2000 to continue improving and strengthening the Institute’s educational curriculum involving the life and work of Viktor E. Frankl, M.D., Ph.D., and his theory of Logotherapy. In addition to Prof. Ivalo-Sjolie, the committee was composed of George E. Rice, Ph.D., Ann V. Graber, Ph.D., Julius Rogina, Ph.D., and Michael Pitts, Ph.D.  Under the guidance of Dr. George Rice, state-of-the-art resources were used to create magnificent presentations of the Institute’s educational curriculum. The project was completed and unveiled in time for the Institute’s Jubilee Congress scheduled June 22-25, 2005, when we celebrated the centennial year of the birth of Viktor Frankl.

During Dr. Barnes’ tenure as president, the Viktor Frankl Institute has hosted eight World Congresses on Logotherapy. Dr. Kent Estes served as Program Chairman for World Congress X through XIV. For the Tenth World Congress on Logotherapy held in Dallas, Texas, in 1995, Prof. Dr. Frankl was unable to travel to the United States because of health issues. He and his beloved wife, Dr. Eleonore Frankl, sent their precious emissaries, granddaughter Katharina Vesely, and grandson, Alexander Vesely. On display of the night of the awards’ banquet was the military uniform that had been worn by TSgt. Barton P. Fuller, United States Army, Texas Regiment.  On Friday, April 27, 1945, TSgt. Fuller, from Austin, Texas, was the first soldier to march through the gate at Tuerkheim to liberate Prof. Dr. Viktor Frankl from the last of four concentration camps where he had been incarcerated. Fifty years later, TSgt. Fuller’s widow allowed her late husband’s uniform to be on display at the Tenth World Congress on Logotherapy. At Prof. Frankl’s request, Katharina and Alexander Vesely each placed a rose near the uniform, and asked the Congress participants to observe a moment of silence in commemoration of the American soldiers’ gift of liberation for Viktor Frankl and his fellow prisoners.

At the Twelfth World Congress in 1999, 25 year-old Alexander David Vesely, grandson of Dr. Eleonore Frankl and the late Dr. Viktor Frankl, made a memorable film presentation, which he had prepared from the Frankl archives in Vienna especially for this occasion. The Frankl family, including, Mrs. Dr. Frankl, the Frankls’ daughter, Dr. Gabriele Frankl Vesely, the Frankls’ son-in-law, Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely, granddaughter Katharina Vesely Rotheiser, and grandson Alexander David Vesely, have consistently been supportive and profoundly helpful in the continued development and work of the Institute.

Participants in the World Congresses have observed a continued elevation of global awareness of Viktor Frankl’s work, as well as academic and professional excellence in all of the program presentations. At the most recent Congress, the Seventeenth World Congress on Logotherapy held in the summer of 2009 in Dallas, Texas, scholars, practitioners, and students represented universities and medical centers from North and South America, numerous European countries, East, West, and South Africa, and from Australia, Israel, Iran, and India totaling 37 nations.  Following the recent World Congress on Logotherapy, a participant wrote, “People from around the world assembled in a spirit of kinship.”  From another reflection came this thought, “From the dedication of so many people, the “defiant power of the human spirit” has received new impetus in bath interpersonal and international relations.”

It has long been a goal of the Institute to facilitate the authentic translation of some of Professor Frankl’s books from German to English. During Dr. Barnes’ time as president, Board member Wayne Albrecht obtained an anonymous grant to fund the Institute’s first translation project. James M. DuBois, Ph.D., D.Sc., recently completed the translation of Frankl’s Theory and Therapy of Neurosis, translated as On the Theory and Therapy of Mental Disorders: An Introduction to Logotherapy and Existential Analysis.

Throughout the developing history of what is now truly an international organization, the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy, has sought the guidance and inspiration of many psychological and philosophical luminaries on a global scale. The leadership of the Institute offers a special tribute of lasting gratitude and esteem to Elisabeth Lukas, Ph.D., founder and former director of the South German Institute of Logotherapy at Furstenfeldbruck.


Viktor Frankl speaking at the First World Congress on Logotherapy in 1980. Photograph in Analecta Frankliana, copyright 1982 by the Institute of Logotherapy Press.