The core elements of a PIE

(And how can you tell if you have one?)

Please Note: a newer version of the core elements of a PIE has now been released. For those that wish to continue to work with the earlier ('classic') , you are entirely free to do so. The new version, however - 'PIEs 2.0' - goes into some areas that the older version could not do.

This "Handy Guide" from 2013* outlined the key elements to consider, in becoming a PIE, using what is now known as the 'classic' formulation.

"The handy guide to being a PIE" from Robin Johnson.

Or for a very, VERY brief account of the classic model, see  the presentation by Claire Ritchie of No One Left Out Solutions,  at the start of the first national (UK) conference on research and evidence on PIEs.

See also, in the Library, Claire's "Creating a Psychologically Informed Environment: assessment and implementation" a very useful 'toolkit' for services, produced for Westminster City Council.

But these videos, and Claire Ritchie' toolkit', provide a rather quicker introduction than two other definitive statements, which are the otherwise essential reading -

This 'non-statutory guidance' (often known more simply as "the complex trauma guidance", as it first proposed the idea of 'complex trauma' as a key issue for this population),  was published in 2010 by the UK Dept of Communities and Local Government, in conjunction with the National Mental Health Development Unit.

This was then followed, in 2012, by

This second guidance described in greater detail the ways services might run, to meet these needs. It was this second guidance document that began to spell out in more detail some of what were seen as the key features of a PIE, in practice.

But the PIE concept is proving to be quite dynamic; like the services it describes, it's been developing and learning. (See: The cycles of practice-based learning HERE`)

So for an account of where things are going and growing currently, see "Is the PIE evolving?"

See also the 2018 remake of the Handy Guide, which updates this earlier account with the 'PIEs 2.0' version. 

And for a VERY quick introduction, try: 'Everything you wanted to know about PIEs, but were afraid to ask' HERE

What do we mean by a PIE?

At its simplest, a psychologically informed environment has been described 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."

But as all human social environments tend to do that to some degree, we tend now to reserve the term for those environments - places, services -  that do so consciously, and with some particular purpose or goals in mind. This site is primarily about how we develop psychologically informed services to meet the challenge of homelessness, as this is the area where the PIE approach has had most impact. PIEs in other fields are equally valuable (see: Is a PIE just about homelessness?' HERE for some ideas..
On these pages, you will find plenty of advice, examples, inspiration, some training material, and other 'food for thought', to help you on your way. Here's one:


So as we see it, being a PIE is a continuous process - more a journey than a destination. Even the idea of a PIE, we suggest, is evolving: see the August essay, Memes: a cautionary tale, for an indication of some of the ways that some parts of the framework are shifting. 

But for a quick, 'handy' guide, introduction, the easiest place to start is still probably with "The Handy Guide to Being a PIE" - which you will find in the next panel - which spells out the main elements, as we saw them in around 2013; or the re-make - "The Handy Guide 2018 re-make" - for an extended version..

But for an account of why it is that PIEs are important at all, you might take a look at "Psychologically Informed Environments? Who needs them?" - a talk delivered to the South West regional conference in the summer of 2015.

Here Robin Johnson, the editor of the PIELink, presents some telling statistics, and suggests some arguments for promoting PIEs in homelessness services, at a time of 'austerity' and severe cuts in budgets.


How does it all fit together?

We believe - and this is what we hear from others - that the core elements of the PIE framework do work best together. There is a synergy between these parts, and the whole is bigger.

It can be hard sometimes to give examples, and say which particular element any particular practice may express; they tend to re-enforce, overlap, flow into each other.  We separate them out only in order to try to bring different aspects into focus; but also because if any one is missing, or under-developed, it tends to hold the others back. 

You might well think of them as being like different strands of a macrame plant holder.  They hang together. 



But being, or introducing a PIE, is not some new technique, to be added in, on top of what you otherwise do. It's an umbrella concept - a new way of seeing it all as a whole.

Or try this. The PIE framework describes the elements that work best to support each other.


Q: when is a PIE not a PIE?

A: when it's a dome....dome diagram