What kinds of 'psychology' might 'inform' a psychologically informed environment?

The paper that first proposed the term 'a psychologically informed environment', used the phrase as a handy description of the increasing sophistication being found in the responses of some services - especially in homelessness resettlement.

But it made no attempt to suggest any particular form of 'psychology' that went into the making of a PIE.  In fact, quite the opposite. It suggested that there was a very wide range of styles of human understanding that might contribute, even suggesting that some faith-based services were equally useful, where the values underlying were compatible with more 'humanistic' concerns.

The first UK government 'guidance' document that adopted the term PIE, in 2010, was no more explicit. Although it did show some leaning towards behaviourist approaches, the main thrust of that document was to stress the importance of recognising the role of understanding 'complex trauma', and finding effective ways to respond. Of the many case studies that it cited, as examples of effective and creative work, few had any specific psychological model to guide them.

The second government guidance (in 2012) was more explicit in suggesting the importance of having 'a psychological model'; and it did spell out three particular schools of thought that had insights to offer - the behaviourist school, the psychodynamic, and the humanistic. But it was careful not to recommend any one particular model, but instead to stress the importance of understanding the user and their particular needs.

Subsequent accounts have tended to be still more open to new ideas and methods, drawing insights from occupational therapy, organisational studies, sociology and anthropology, liberation theology and contemporary neuroscience.

In the panel opposite, we include  just a small selection of some of the less obvious but still useful insights that have appeared in the PIElink's monthly newsletters and elsewhere, that do not belong to any particular school of thought. For a more recent selection (from 2020), see 'Recently added Library items' : HERE.




Further background reading/listening/viewing

PIElink pages

Is psychology even the right word? : HERE

A lived experience view of PIEs ( aka Aaron's page) : HERE

The scaffoldng of hope : HERE

Psychological awareness 101 : HERE

Psychological awareness in action : HERE

The lasting legacy of 'Supporting People' : HERE


Library items

See especially:

Three models of the causes of homelessness, and their implications for the psychology in homelessness services (immediately below)

And 'Does it take a psychologist to make a PIE?' : HERE

Otherwise below we have a selection of items that had appeared in earlier PIElink members newsletters, in date order. Here, for an attempt at categorisation, they clustered now more by theme. Like all attempt to categorise, it is only partially successful. But hopefully the titles give some clue:

The process of change

  • Take a chance on me; working with clients in the pre-contemplative stageHERE
  • Colour, nudge, and the Psychologically Informed Environment : HERE
  • The neuroscience of singing:
  • Personality Disorders and alcohol treatment: is there any hope? : HERE
  • Memory, reconstruction and anticipation : HERE
  • A 30 minute session of teaching youth that personality is malleable can have long-lasting effects and change behaviour : HERE
  • Merely wanting to change is not enough; and can be self-defeating: HERE
  • Dolphins learn new behaviour from their peers: HERE

Understanding the issues

  • “A Way of Life?” : HERE
  • Think swearing isn't big and clever? Think again :HERE
  • The complex twinned meanings of 'welcome' and 'reception' in French : HERE
  • Women’s experience of exclusion and rehab : HERE
  • Five studies that help explain why social drinking is so rewarding :HERE 
  • Homelessness – what people get wrong about it : HERE
  • The biology of loneliness: HERE
  • Mental disorders in offspring of parents who have been homeles: HERE

Trying new ways/ values-based practice

  • Participatory appraisal : HERE
  • The development of the Outcome Star: HERE
  • Loving beggars - how to escape from stereotypes about street people : HERE
  • Using Open Dialogue in research and development: HERE
  • Using the word ‘you’ to engage – or disengage : HERE
  • The Power Threat Meaning Framework: Summary : HERE
  • Camp Take Notice : HERE
  • A PIE of pathways: providing continuity for fragmented selves : HERE