Psychological awareness in action

Please note; we are in the midst of a thorough re-construction of these pages. For the moment, there may be some duplication of material from elsewhere; and probably some broken links. Bear with us. Its a lot to cover......

Psychological awareness comes fitted as standard in all human beings. In the absence of severe disruption of human development - whether in utero or in traumatic events early in life - humans grow up with a range of intuitive abilities and 'emotional intelligence' that is quite remarkable.

These abilities are central to social and emotional life and relationships; and those in whom these abilities are impaired - or simply temporarily unavailable, as for example under conditions of immediate stress or threat - will struggle to cope with social and emotional life.  We often call such individuals 'vulnerable' or 'at risk'. But such vulnerabilities can come to us all, at times.

It is possible, however, to attempt to ignore such emotional messages, and some organisations or ways of working have attempted to act as if that was no part of their work, even to deliberately discourage any element of person-to-person relationships in their work. There are many studies to confirm that this can actually be very stressful for the staff, who have then no outlet for natural human responses.

But this institutionalised denial of the importance of psychological awareness and of creating constructive relationships appears to be particularly damaging in relation to those socially marginalised stigmatised and excluded. This may be especially significant to those that had suffered severe emotional trauma an/or disruption in their early life, as reconnection and trust are especially central to recovery here.


Diversity and cultural (in)sensitivities

Meanwhile, there clearly are some areas of life where our innate capacity or understand and relate to each other as human beings has been quite pervasively distorted and damaged by cultural norms. Nowhere is this more evident than in issues of race and gender - though other forms of deeply rooted prejudice and stigma are equally prevalent and often harder to spot.

In PIEs 2.0, you might well choose to look at this issue in services in terms of the psychological awareness you can bring to each individual service user. But it makes sense also to consider treating power and prejudice as issues to be addressed via a more challenging psychological model, such as the Power Threat Meaning framework.

(Needless to say, this can then be reflected and expressed in more practical ways via Training and Support, in reflective practice and sector engagement, in a host of operational details in Three Rs; and in the signage in buildings, the active engagement networks and improved pathways that we address in the Spaces of Opportunity.


What psychology?

As for what particular 'psychologies' may be helpful, it is worth a look at the "What psychology?' pages here (HERE); and when and whether specialist psychologist in-put to any service may be most helpful, see 'Does it take a psychologist to make a PIE?' (HERE)

NB: There has also been some debate even over the use of the term 'psychological', in the term 'a psychologically informed environment' or PIE. (See: Is 'Psychology' even the right word? HERE)



Further background reading/listening/viewing

The other key features of the revised version are:

  • Psychological awareness ; HERE

    • Empathy and emotional intelligence : HERE
    • Approaches and techniques : HERE
    • Psychological models : HERE


    Training and support : HERE

    Learning and enquiry : HERE

    • Reflective practice : HERE
    • A culture of Enquiry : HERE
    • Sector engagement : HERE
    • Evidence- generating practice : HERE


    Spaces of opportunity : HERE

    • The built environment : HERE
    • Networks and surroundings : HERE
    • Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE


    The Three Rs : HERE

    • Rules and procedures : HERE
    • Roles and relationships : HERE
    • Responsiveness : HERE


    Where are relationships in PIEs 2.0? : HERE

    A lived experience view of PIEs : HERE

    What's the Big Idea?  : HERE

    From PIEs 1 to PIEs 2.0 : HERE

    Will there be a PIEs 3? : HERE


    Digging Deeper

Rules, roles and responsiveness : HERE

So: where is 'relationships' in the PIEs 2.0 framework? HERE

For more on the development of these areas, see:

PIEs 2.0 - the development procesHERE

Pizazz: A new and more customisable working framework for PIEs HERE


What training? and what support? : HERE

Learning through enquiry : HERE

Making space : HERE

The Three Rs : HERE

Diversity : HERE


PIElink pages on PIEs overall

PIEs in principle : HERE

PIEs 2 : HERE 

PIEs 1, 2 - and 3? : HERE

PIE  assessment : HERE


Further reading

Psychologically informed services by Helen Keats, Peter Cockersell, Robin Johnson and Nick Maguire

Social Psychiatry and Social Policy for the 21st Century (Part One): The Psychologically Informed Environment by Robin Johnson & Rex Haigh



Psychologically Informed Environments and Trauma Informed Care (HomelessLink webinar), Claire Ritchie & Jo Prestidge 

Introduction to Psychologically Informed Environments (Fulfilling Lives training programme,) Ray Middleton & Robin Johnson

A 'Handy' guide to being a PIE (2013) by Robin Johnson (video)

Does it take a psychologist to be a PIE? by Robin Johnson