Is 'psychology' even the right word?

There has been some debate over the use of the term 'psychological', in the term 'a psychologically informed environment' or PIE.

Some have taken this to mean that being 'psychologically informed' means being 'informed' by a psychologist; and/or by a specific approach derived from research or clinical psychology.  Many would favour still more specific concepts in psychology, such as 'trauma' (see the specific section here on "Trauma Informed care"), or specific methods, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psycho-dynamic insights etc. (See: 'Psychologically informed services; operational guidance' HERE).

Others have argued that a much wider perspective is needed (and in most cases, is what is actually used), including 'psycho-social' factors, occupational psychology, anthropology, systems theory, even human geography. (See: 'ACEs, PIEs and TIC; translating theory into practice', HERE; 'PIEs, SPIES and Homo SAPIENS', HERE) .There are certainly many who are trying to make an economic case for recognising the importance of 'psychology' (See: 'Three theories on the origins of homelessness', HERE) .

Others still argue that what was originally meant by the term was not a particular professional perspective - 'psychology' - but rather a recognition of the complex 'psychology' of our clients, and so terms like 'emotional intelligence' or 'active empathy' would have been equally accurate and perhaps more generally applicable ( See: 'Does it take a psychologist to make a PIE?' HERE) .

In practice, whatever the chosen formal 'approach' - even if there is one - most services and most staff are, in the language of psychological models, 'eclectic' - that is, they draw on a wide range of insights and techniques, both for the 'culture' of the service as a whole, and for the response to any one individual or incident.

NB: It is for this reason that the PIEs self assessment module, the Pizazz, uses 'psychological awareness' (HERE) as the 'high level' theme for this aspect of the PIE approach; where appropriate, this will allow a service to rate itself quite highly, even without any use of specific techniques or models.

Further reading/viewing

Psychologically informed services by Helen Keats, Peter Cockersell, Robin Johnson and Nick Maguire

Social Psychiatry and Social Policy for the 21st Century (Part One): The Psychologically Informed Environment by Robin Johnson & Rex Haigh

Creating a Psychologically Informed Environment; assessment and implementation by Claire Ritchie

PIEs, SPIEs and Homo SAPIENs by Tom Harrison



Psychologically Informed Environments and Trauma Informed Care (HomelessLink webinar), Claire Ritchie & Jo Prestidge 

Introduction to Psychologically Informed Environments (Fulfilling Lives training programme,) Ray Middleton & Robin Johnson

A 'Handy' guide to being a PIE (2013) by Robin Johnson (video)

Does it take a psychologist to be a PIE? by Robin Johnson