Psychological awareness 101

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......


We have described a psychologically informed environment as  “one that takes into account the psychological make-up – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience – of its participants, in the way it operates."

So for the PIEs 2.0 framework, we see 'psychological awareness' as potentially operating at any level within any service, from top to toe - and beyond, in the networks, pathways and systems that we have created, which can also be more 'psychologically informed'.

  • The first - and by far the most necessary – is the one we simply call empathy, or 'psychological' or perhaps 'emotional awareness' . This is the psychology that we all have, and use, as human beings.
  • The second is the use of particular approaches techniques, which might often be drawn from ‘psychology’, in a more technical sense.
  • The third is the adoption, within a service, of a particular ‘psychological model’, to shape and guide many or all aspects of the services’ work.


It is that broader 'psychological awareness' or 'emotional intelligence' that is the bedrock on which a PIE is built; and for many services, it can sufficient to create the level of responsiveness that creates a PIE. Certainly without it, nothing else will.

It is sometimes thought that a ‘psychological model’ is necessary for any service, to call itself a PIE. But that’s really true only if by ‘psychological model’ we mean 'psychological awareness', in that broader,  more informal, less technical sense. It only needs to be whatever you need, to understand the people you work with. Don't make it any more complicated than it needs to be.

It is for this reason that the PIEs self-assessment module, the Pizazz (HERE), uses 'psychological awareness', rather than 'psychological model', as the 'high level' theme for this whole aspect of the PIE approach. This will allow a service to rate itself quite freely, even quite highly, on 'active empathy', without any use of any specific techniques or models at all.


Clustering practice issues

NB:  For more on the thinking behind creating this cluster of issues theme as a central theme for PIEs, see: 'Psychological awareness in action', in the Discussions section : 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



A lived experience view of PIEs : HERE

What's the Big Idea?  : HERE


Digging Deeper

Psychological awareness in Action : 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 process : HERE

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


Further reading

Three models of the causes of homelessnessHERE

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

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



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

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

A 'Handy' guide to being a PIE (2018) with Robin Johnson (video) : HERE 

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



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