Finding the words - the language that works

In recent months there has been some discussion (see below) on finding a more 'service user-friendly' language for the work of PIEs.

In order to cover the wide range of services, and settings, user groups and approaches in a single framework (HERE), the language is quite general, even quite abstract. But it also looks at service primarily from the perspective of the staff, the managers and funders.

Yet if we wish to see more co-production of services, it is important to find a language that relates to the experience of services users - a 'street' language.

For other PIElink forums we have advertised the schedule via the PIElink's newsletters, which go to registered members. As a result, perhaps, for discussions on service -user-friendly language, the great majority of those who registered were themselves staff.

For a Special Interest Group to explore this possibility of a user-focussed language, we may need to recruit or work in a different way.

Watch this space - and/or better still, get in touch with your own thoughts.


But it's not just service users that struggle with this language

In these forums, we have been exploring the difficulty in finding the right words, initially with services' users.  But it is also true that many staff find the language of the Big Five Themes hard to grasp, at least at first.

In order to cover the wide range of services, and settings, user groups and approaches in a single framework, the language is quite general, even quite abstract.   But we know that some workers struggle to see how this language applies to their service. Its an issue for us all.


All language is tricky

Some find the idea that we all use 'psychology' to understand each other quite appealing; whereas still others feel they are being expected now to be psychologists - and at barely a third of the salary, at best.

Meanwhile, other services that we may need to work with may be bemused by this talk of a 'PIE', and especially if they had been given the impression that it is 'something to do with homelessness', and not a perspective that might well be applied to all services working with complex needs - something we might have in common.

Some talk of service users; some of clients; some of customers, or members, tenants or patients.

Some find getting a diagnosis helpful; others find it demeaning.

Some find the concept of 'care' in 'trauma informed care' too clinical; others ask how on earth caring can have become a technical thing, a specialism; or a contractual thing, to be 'provided', or 'delivered', like pizza?

For more discussion on the skills in finding a common language, see the 'Pretreatment' pages on  the 'House of Language' : HERE


To register for forums, email :

For the full current season's programme, topics and dates, see: HERE



Pre-drafting for a Language SIG:

Finding a service user-friendly language

The PIE approach has given new impetus to listening to and learning from the client, or user, or customer; and many services now want to involve service users as a group, in helping to chart their way forward.

But the available guidance for services on PIEs development – even the original PIEs 2.0 framework, and then the Pizazz – is still largely described in the rather abstract and formal language of service providers, commissioners and researchers.

Meanwhile, the new on-line version of the Pizazz, the PIE Abacus, now allows us to create a version of the software screens to run in parallel with the self assessments and future planning of the staff of services.  This is something we really need to do, if we are serious about including service users in assessing and developing the services they use, including wider local needs and strengths audits, for a ‘PIE of pathways’.

We already have some early drafting of ideas that we would like to share, to make this, too, a full community of practice development.    If this is a challenge that appeals to you – or to your service users – just contact us.

This page will then be the site for PIElink members' contributions to the discussions. Here we will have links to any material sent in, or other resources, for sharing.  We begin with a few items already in the PIElink Library.


Further reading, listening and viewing

Special Interest Groups : HERE


All forums 

This Season (2022) : HERE


PIElink pages

A single framework : HERE

Pretreatment and 'the House of Language' : HERE

PIEs 1, 2 - and 3? : HERE

Service users' PIE assessments : HERE

The coffee break Pizazz : HERE


Library items

(Please note: you will need to be registered and logged in, to access items from the members' Library.)

The language of lived experience : HERE

The democracy of pidgin : HERE 

A Service users' rating of psychological awareness in services (draft) :  HERE

An interview with David Gill : HERE


On the web:

Addictionary : HERE