Psychological - and other - models

The Psychological Awareness theme in PIEs 2 focusses on how services and their staff try to understand people, and work with the issues they then encounter.

Psychological - and other - models

One of the advantages in using a broader and non-technical psychological ‘awareness’ as the bedrock of the 'psychology' in the new PIEs formulation is that it grounds the awareness we need in the everyday human capacity for understanding. This is not a specialism.

The ordinary human capacity for understanding, empathy, tolerance, and compassion will get you a long way; and in fact without them, as the basis, no other techniques will get you anywhere, especially with people with more complex needs.

In contemporary psychology there is a wide range of schools of thought,  each with their own technical terminology, and many will have specific techniques derived from theory, or will shed new light on practices that have stood the test of time. Each may add something useful to the range of understandings and suitable responses that a service may need, to respond to complex needs..

In some contexts, particularly where there may be a more clinical role or treatment-minded services philosophy, it may be helpful to adopt a more specific psychological model, such as a cognitive behavioural model - the basis of CBT - or psycho-dynamic thinking. Most services, however, will be to a greater or lesses extent 'eclectic', drawing helpful insights and techniques from a wider range of models and approaches.

Diversity, exclusion, inequality and systemic rigidity

But there are other perspectives on services and service delivery that may shed light on the difficulty in delivering suitable support to individuals most at risk of marginalisation and exclusion. Rather than looking simply at the characteristics of the individual, we will need to understand the social and organisational processes that render some problems harder to respond to, and some systems more or less responsive.

For example, within the range of 'psychology' we need to include understanding other human and social issues of diversity. Gender, age, or cultural sensitivity - these are some of the wider understandings that services will want to consider, and handle appropriately.

Most services - and most people - do in fact have a fairly intuitive awareness of these issues, and how they affect us. But within the 'models' of understanding that services consciously use, we may need to bring these more to the fore..

Still, for those that DO want to go a little further into knowing what is available in more technical psychological models and approaches, and what’s being found to be useful in some contexts, here we will sketch out – but briefly – a selection of those models, approaches and techniques that some services are using.

This is not to suggest that all services should be using some – or indeed any – of these approaches; but just to indicate what you might want to consider.  So if here we list a selection, it is not to recommend any one, but rather to suggest the very wide range of perspectives that may be relevant.

It is also necessarily the briefest of outlines  (these are all explored in rather greater depth on other pages) but the recommended reading section will give some useful pointers for those that may want to explore further.

It’s also worth warning here that the dividing line between a technique and a model is actually a little blurred, as many techniques do come from a particular theory, and so they imply a basis in some theory; but many models of human behaviour can be quite open-ended as to how they are used in practice. In that case they provide a perspective for understanding (or a ‘lens’) rather than specific techniques; so the distinction is worth try to make.


Models of complex needs and of how change comes

  • Trauma awareness and TIC*
  • Behaviour therapiies - CBT & DBT
  • Humanistic psychology
  • Recovery – esp in MH (note: see also social work values)
  • Positive psychology – including sports psychology, the strengths model
  • Psychodynamic incl. TA (eg: the drama triangle) and attachment theory
  • Clinical/diagnostic approaches (eg: PD, TBI, autism awareness)
  • Evolutionary psychology & neuroscience (plasticity) & ACEs
  • Economics, inequality, power relationships and the ‘Power, threat, meaning’ framework
  • Cultural and gender sensitivity


Other useful models and understandings

  • Pharmacology - especially of substance abuse
  • Care pathways, needs filtering and organisational psychology
  • Systems thinking and systems failure
  • Mentalisation and mind-mindedness
  • The strengths model and 'appreciative enquiry'
  • Other issues – limited literacy; loneliness, belonging and group support; and many other possible issues that only future research may reveal

Other models of systems and services

  • The cycle of change and the pre-contemplative stage
  • Critiques of New Publc Management
  • Housing First
  • Resilience (for staff as well as users)


* NB: PIEs can be seen as operationalising TIC; and note that TIC is highly recommended in Housing First practice.

Further links

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

The built environment : HERE

Networks and surroundings : HERE

Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE

Rules and procedures : HERE

Roles and relationships : HERE

Responsiveness : HERE


Where are relationships in PIEs 2.0? : HERE

From PIEs 1 to PIEs 2.0 : HERE

Will there be a PIEs 3? : HERE