Shift of the Three-year Geographic Rotation

Why are the geographic rotations being shifted?

Mary Sigourney’s original vision was to reward ground-breaking psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic thought across academic, humanitarian, and arts-focused fields, worldwide. In addition, she sought to attract individuals across gender, race, culture, location, and professional categories. Shifting the focus from regional applications to international applications will help the Trust realize her vision by expanding awareness of The Sigourney Award worldwide and ensuring greater applicant diversity. 2019 and 2020 will be transitional years as The Sigourney Trust shifts the three-year geographic rotation to an annual international call for nominations.

Nominations will be accepted from around the world. Up two awards will be open only to European nominees. Up to two awards will be open to nominees from anywhere in the world.

Nominations will be accepted from around the world. Up two awards be open only to Latin American nominees. Up to two awards will be open to nominees from anywhere in the world

Nominations will be accepted from anywhere in the world with no geographic designation assigned.

The two transitional years will enable the Trust to determine if the change:

  • better assures Mary Sigourney’s goal of a global Award; 

  • reduces the tendency of favoring the status quo;

  • better includes emerging countries and non-traditional applications of psychoanalysis;

  • is less complicated--potential nominees no longer need to track where their country is in the geographic cycle and can now apply in any year;

  • allows recognition of nominees whose impact and work are international and not limited to a particular geographic area;

  • Assures that recipients receive global, rather than limited regional, recognition;

  • enables us to better reach potential nominees on an ongoing basis—technology now makes it easier to expand to communicate to a larger pool of nominees; and

  • eliminates limiting geographic categories that do not represent the international nature of the Award that Mary Sigourney established. 

Can an organization or individual apply for the Award any year regardless of geographic location?


How does the Trust ensure that an applicant from a country that has a small or lesser known psychoanalytic community can fairly compete with nominees from more established psychoanalytic communities? 

The Award takes very seriously the need to judge an applicant’s contribution to enhancing progress for the psychoanalytic community both by world-wide standards and by local standards.  In response to the tension between judging globally and locally, the Award is taking the following steps:        

  • The judges’ panels will be globally diverse and include those who work with innovative applications of psychoanalysis;

  • Judges will be provided with objective standards for the Award; and

  • The Trustees and judges will monitor for unconscious bias regarding issues of region, gender, race and theoretical orientation.

Who do I contact if I have questions about the Award?

The Trustees - visit Contact.

Award Basics

Who created the Award?

Mary S. Sigourney, a licensed psychotherapist, publisher, and community activist established the Award upon her death in 1988.   

Why did Mary Sigourney create the Award?

Mary Sigourney understood the significant contributions and lasting benefits of psychoanalysis, its ability to reduce human suffering and its value to understanding human affairs. Ms. Sigourney was concerned about the future of psychoanalysis and wanted to see it move beyond the walls of the consulting room. She felt that by recognizing outstanding contributions to the field of psychoanalysis and related disciplines, it would encourage new activity. 

What do Recipients receive?

Recipients join an outstanding group of past Award winners who are globally recognized as leaders in their field. Each recipient also receives a substantial monetary award and extensive web and social media exposure in the professional community and general public.

How much is the monetary award?

The amount of the monetary award varies from year to year depending on a number of factors including the number of recipients chosen by the judges for that year and tax requirements. The Awards have typically ranged from $25,000 to $40,000 US dollars.

Are there any restrictions on the Recipient’s use of the monetary award?

There are no restrictions on use of the monetary award and recipients have complete discretion as to how they use the funds. 

How many Awards have been given?

There have been 125 Awards since the Sigourney Award Trust began accepting applications in 1989–17 to organizations and 111 to individuals. Awards were given for the first time in 1990.

Is the Sigourney Award Trust associated with any particular psychoanalytic organization?

No. Mary Sigourney wanted the Trust to be protected as much as possible from political pressures. She appreciated the work that organizations do, and she wanted to ensure that the Trust and the Award remained separate and distinct from these organizations in order to maintain its freedom. Concerned that establishment psychoanalysts were preserving a closed system of training and practice with insufficient attention to applied psychoanalysis and research, Ms. Sigourney established the independent Trust.

Award Criteria

What are the basic criteria for the Award?

The Award honors recipients’ recent past work, not future work. A nominee's accomplishments should be insightful or ground breaking, advance the understanding or evolution of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic thought, and advance the public good.

Judges look at whether a nominee’s work:

  • supports The Sigourney Award's vision and mission;

  • represents a significant impact on the field of psychoanalytic thought;

  • expands the reach of psychoanalytic thought or practice within a specific region, population, or the world;

  • increases positive public awareness of the psychoanalytic enterprise; 

  • utilizes psychoanalytic thinking to promote the public good;

  • brings innovation to the field of psychoanalytic thought; and/or

  • is central to disciplines beyond psychoanalysis, including but not limited to art, journalism, medicine, the sciences, and social welfare.

Who established the criteria for the Award?

Mary Sigourney established the Award criteria.

Is the Sigourney Award a lifetime achievement award?

No. Judges look for a substantial body of outstanding work during the most recent five to ten years.  

Is the Award only given to individuals?

No. Organizations are also eligible and have received the Award.

Who is eligible for the Award?

The Trust encourages and seeks broad diversity among its nominees and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), sex, gender, gender expression or identity, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, or military status.

Who is not eligible for the Award?

No individual is eligible for the Award if he or she is currently serving, or has served during the preceding year, as an officer of any national or international psychoanalytic association. No current or former Trustee of the Sigourney Award Trust is eligible for the Award. Past Award Recipients are not eligible.

Is the Award limited to one type of psychoanalytic activity?

No. The Award Trust recognizes outstanding work that:

  • applies psychoanalysis or  psychoanalytic thought to other fields and disciplines including anthropology, arts and humanities, child development, criminology, law, medicine, philosophy, psychology, and sociology;

  • increases positive public awareness of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic thinking; or

  • applies psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic thought to advance the public good.

Nomination Process

What is the overall nomination and award procedure?

Nominations are accepted between April 1 and August 31. An anonymous panel of judges meets in October and November to select that year’s recipients. Up to four individuals or organizations whose work has been judged exceptional are notified of the judges’ decision. The recipients are publicly announced in December.

Who can nominate an organization or individual for the Award?

Anyone, including the nominee, can nominate an organization or individual for the Award.

Are self-nominations permitted?

Yes. A nominee can nominate himself/herself/itself.

What needs to be submitted for a nomination?

The application can be found at Apply

When are nominations due?

Typically, nominations are accepted between April 1 and August 31.

Must all nomination materials be in English?


When are the Award recipients announced?

The judges meet in October and November. The recipients are publicly announced in December.

Can I find out who was nominated in a particular year?

No. The names of nominees are confidential and not released publicly.

Who determines the number of recipients each year?

The judges determine the number of recipients, up to four.

Evaluation Process

How are the judges chosen?

  • The Trustees annually appoint a three to five judge panel.

  • The Trustees seek individuals who are fair and open minded and not beholden to any particular nominee, theoretical perspective, or geographic region, with a goal of creating a panel that is unbiased and geographically and professionally diverse.

  • An effort is made to include an individual who has a professional identification outside of clinical psychoanalysis.

Who are the judges?

The identity of the judges is strictly confidential and not released publicly. 

What is the judging procedure?

  • The Trust has established a judge training and evaluation criteria to support the judges in objectively evaluating nominations.

  • Each nomination packet is evaluated independently by each judge.

  • The submission is ranked based the submission’s strength using an objective scale.

Advisory Council

What is the role of the Advisory Council?

The Advisory Council expands the reach and outlook of the Trust. It serves as a sounding board for the Trustees and advises the Trustees as requested. 

Who appoints the Advisory Council?

The Trustees appoint the Advisory Council.

Who is currently on the Advisory Council?

Ruth Axelrod, Peter Fonagy, Glen Gabbard, Steve Levy, Mark Solms


Who are the Trustees?

The Trust has two Trustee positions, one held by a distinguished psychoanalyst and one held by an attorney with experience and appreciation of the fiduciary duties of a trustee. The current Trustees are Dr. William Myerson, Ph.D. and Barbara Sherland, J.D.