Approaches and techniques*

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

*NB: this page is an excerpt from 'The Book of PIE', one of the 'Other writings' : HERE


A note on models and techniques

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 theory. Here we mean only to refer to things that you might actually do, and (probably) train your staff in doing, in order to operationalise the psychological awareness and perhaps any more theoretical psychological model that your service(s) wok with.

But many more theoretical 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.


Still, for those that DO want to go a little further into knowing what’s available, 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. 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 in the Advanced training course) but the recommended reading section will give some useful pointers for those that may want to explore further.


General models of complex needs and of how change comes

  • Trauma awareness*
  • CBT & DBT
  • Humanistic psychology
  • Positive psychology – including sports psychology, the strengths model
  • Psychodynamic incl. TA (eg: the drama triangle) and attachment theory
  • Evolutionary psychology & neuroscience (plasticity) & ACEs
  • Pharmacology - especially of substance abuse
  • Clinical/diagnostic approaches (eg: PD, TBI, autism awareness)
  • Care pathways, needs filtering and
  • Cycle of change and the pre-contemplative stage Lankelly
  • Resilience (for staff as well as users);
  • Recovery – esp in MH ( note: social work values)
  • Mentalisation and mind-mindedness,
  • Economics, inequality and systems failure
  • Cultural and gender sensitivity
  • Power relationships, and the ‘Power, threat, meaning’ framework
  • Other – limited literacy; loneliness, belonging and group support; and other possible issues that only future research may reveal


* NB: PIEs can be seen as operationalising TIC; and TIC is highly recommended in Housing First. Practice;  and we will return to PIEs & HF under rules):



  • Pretreatment and
  • other Techniques of engagement in outreach
  • Reflective practice
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Management by walking about
  • Open Dialogue
  • ACT
  • Motivational interviewing


  • Service brokerage
  • De-escalation
  • Service assessment – buildings
  • Service assessment – buildings



Refer here to Claire’s guide here for more useful examples



  • Mentalisation
  • Empathy emotional intelligence
  • Values and compassion
    • Under values, mention St Georges Crypt as an example (also of roles, co-location, networking)
    • Under values, also recovery as social work values


  • The snippets



Further background and examples

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