Enabling environments: ten values-based principles for a healthy place to be

Some of the original thinking that lay behind the term PIE, as used to describe constructive and innovative services in the field of homelessness resettlement, arose from some work then being conducted under the auspices of the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists *

The Royal College wished to up-date thinking on "therapeutic communities" - specialist treatment units - to reflect the contemporary world of mental health services. In common with many essentially holistic, flexible and user-led approaches, it was proving hard to demonstrate the effectiveness of these services; and it was felt that some clearer definition would help. After extensive consultations, the Royal College's team settled on a definition based not on particular processes or structures, but on core values.

The challenge was then to see how far it was possible to extend the same thinking to the world of community mental health, and to identify core features of what it was that is experienced as positively mentally and emotionally healthy, in ordinary settings - such as a workplace, a faith community, a sheltered accommodation scheme, or even a prison - without necessarily even using the words "mental health", or "therapy", or "community". 

The term adopted to describe such 'healthy places to be" was Enabling Environments ( or "EEs"); and the Enabling Environments development group then went on to develop a ten-score programme to match the therapeutic communities scale, and it was in the course of this development that the term 'psychologically informed environment' was first suggested, to describe developments in homelessness.

The intention however was always to modify the language of the EE programme to suit the context; but as the PIE concept gained traction, a simpler and more practical version, with now six key principles as the framework, came to be accepted as more useful for the homelessness sector. 

A Housing Care and Support article from 2013 (Haigh et al) gives a fuller account of the history of development, and the conceptual links between PIEs and therapeutic communities, and with other forms of "enabling environment", such as "PIPEs" in the prison service, or "Greencare"


Further reading

Social psychiatry and Social Policy for the 21st Century: new concepts for new needs: Part Two - the Enabling Environment, Johnson & Haigh, (2010) in J. Mental Health and Social Inclusion.

"Psychologically Informed Environments and the Enabling Environments Initiative" Haigh et al (2013) in J. Mental Health and Social Inclusion.

See also the PIElink pages on Greencare HERE.

For a recent update on PIPEs in the criminal justice system, see:   A Guide to psychologically Informed Planned Environments  

EE and PIE Key Area Grid.doc Dylan Moore and Robin Johnson


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