Introducing the PIE approach

There is no one right way to 'be' a PIE; and likewise, there is no right way to become one, and to introduce the PIE approach in existing services. Unless you are designing a new service from scratch, developing an existing service will depend on two things; where you are coming from, and where you wish to go. Both will be unique to you.

In either case, though, a self assessment approach - probably using the 'Pizazz', either on paper (HERE) or the software (HERE)  - may be a helpful way to begin, with a careful look at the service now, and then assessing current strengths and constraints, and forming an action plan.

It is important, though, to take this at the natural pace of your own services' development, as far as you can . The PIE approach is not best imposed from above; or from outside, by funders.

For those wanting to start quite modestly, in a more informal and  less intimidating fashion, do take a look at 'the coffee break Pizazz' (HERE); and some other comments on using informality, in what we call 'peer review' (HERE).

It may also be helpful to know of some examples of how other services have fared. You might consider the first five items here, which describe the various approaches that a handful of services had taken, in the past, in consciously adopting the PIE approach to their client group and circumstances.

  • In  'Developing a psychological model: learning from a Housing Association pilot', Aileen Edwards CEO of Second Step In Bristol, writing in a special issue of the Housing Care and support journal on Psychologically Informed Environments - HERE
  • 'Implementing a Psychologically Informed Environment in a service for young homeless people' by Jeremy Woodcock & Jamie Gill, describes the way they based their thinking and development on attachment theory in action; and they set their sights on becoming 'a learning organisation'  HERE
  • Y people is also a youth work service, covering many services across Scotland, from Glasgow to the Orkneys. Y-Adapt is a development plan, produced by and for the Y people staff team. They adopted a clubhouse model for their implementation of the PIE ideas, seeing the development of a safe sense of community as central to success. HERE
  • Highwater House, in Norwich, is a care home - for US readers, the closest description might be a recovery housing project. Highwater was well on the way to developing along PIE lines, long before they ever heard the phrase. Nevertheless they have insisted that the PIE model gave extra clarity and focus, and sped their journey. Their  2017 annual report describes using elastic tolerance: low costs changes in building adaptation:  move-on and co-location (HERE)
  • Psychologist Sian Clark, presenting at the Towards a PIE city event in November 2017, describes the enthusiastic take up of reflective practice in particular, in the acute psychiatry wards in Bristol; it is another example of the PIE idea, which has its roots in therapeutic communities, finding new applications in therapy settings  HERE


This is followed by a selection of items for commissioners, looking not just at the service you commission, but the ways that you yourselves go about creating the pathways in and through services in your locality.

Further background reading/listening/viewing


Developing a psychological model: learning from a Housing Association pilot - Aileen Edwards - HERE

Implementing a Psychologically Informed Environment in a service for young homeless people - Jeremy Woodcock & Jamie Gill -  HERE

Y-Adapt - Y people staff team –  HERE

Highwater House annual report –  (Coming Soon)

Towards a PIE city – Sian Clark -  HERE


For the rest of the case studies collection:

  • Introducing the PIE approach : HERE
  • The built environment and adaptations : HERE
  • Using the whole environment: HERE
  • Outreach, pathways, and environments without buildings : HERE
  • PIEs, communities and a sense of belonging : HERE
  • Clubhouses, cores, and campus models : HERE
  • PIEs in therapy settings : HERE
  • 'Psychologically informed business environments' : HERE
  • Whole system PIEs  : HERE
  • PIEs and ‘exclusion-informed research’ HERE


Also related:

Back on your feet - is  a video produced on the work of Suzanne Quinney with the King George's hostel in Westminster - a pilot for using Appreciative Inquiry as a strengths model, it also describes an approach to creating a learning organisation, from the lived experience of shared learning with service users. HERE

A Whole New World  by Toby Lowe et al – describes a radical approach to promoting services through psychologically informed commissioning; the focus here is not so much on individuals services as PIEs, but on creating a whole system approach - a PIE of pathways  HERE

Behaving like a system – Lankelly Chase – a pilot in Coventry, identifying markers of whole systems change HERE

Westminster City’ Ten Top Tips - Victoria Aseervatham gives her advice for commissioners on medium- low- and no cost changes HERE

Pre-treatment therapy is an approach to counselling with street homeless people in a drop in clinic service in the Soho district in the centre of London. Lead counsellor John Conolly here outlines the way he has adapted  Jay Levy's thinking on pretreatment, to be used in therapy settings (Coming Soon)

Also related:

Back on your feet - Suzanne Quinney -  HERE

A Whole New World – Toby Lowe et al –  HERE

Behaving like a system – Lankelly Chase –  HERE

Westminster City’ Ten Top Tips - Victoria Aseervatham –  HERE

Pre-treatment therapy –  John Conolly -  (Coming Soon)