The original ('classic') account of a PIE

PIEs One - the original or 'classic' formulation of what makes for a PIE - began to come together over a couple of years, from 2012 to 2016. At that stage, six key themes were emerging:

  • recognising the central importance of service users' experience was described as 'having a psychological model'
  • making constructive relationships was seen as one of the pillars of the PIE, although described - all be it somewhat awkwardly - as 'managing relationships'
  • the importance of staff training and especially of staff support was highlighted, in recognition of the complexity of the emotional demands on staff
  • thoughtful attention to the design and layout of the buildings was commended - and extended to include the networks of aftercare and similar 'move on' approaches to continuing support
  • encouraging reflective practice in services was seen as the best way forward, to explore what might be done at local level
  • sharing this emerging information on what works within and between services was encouraged, described as 'evidence-generating practice

So this is usually summed up in six headlines:

  1. Having a psychological model
  2. Managing relationships to make this central
  3. Staff training and support
  4. Working with thought to the built environment
  5. Adopting reflective practice
  6. Evidence-generating practice*

For a more conversational presentation, with examples, see Robin Johnson's 'Handy Guide to being a PIE' (HERE)

And for many examples of how this might look in practice, see the Westminster guide (HERE), authored by Claire Ritchie.

Many services do still find this a useful introduction to 'thinking like a PIE' - in particular because this version foregrounds the importance of forming constructive relationships. For some services this, in combination with reflective practice, is the place to start.

NB: In a test of AI software, in the spring of 2023, ChatGPT – then newly released -  confidently produced an account of a PIE that summed it up relatively well – but drew all its ‘intelligence’ from what had been written in previous years. As a result, it had to rely almost solely on the published literature, and so it simply summed up what had until then been described as PIEs – using PIEs One.


Moving on

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

For a more detailed analysis (from 2017) of the original strengths and eventual weaknesses of this original ('classic') formulation, see 'Is the PIE evolving? (a summary) : HERE

Or for another VERY quick (2 page) introduction, try: 'Everything you wanted to know about PIEs, but were afraid to ask' HERE


  • NB: In some presentations this might be described as 'evaluating outcomes'. As a contract compliance issue for many services, this was rather less satisfactory as a key principle for PIEs, and could be quite contentious. (For a discussion on evaluating outcomes in a PIE, see 'Evaluation by outcomes' in the Digging Deeper pages : HERE)


Early briefings

The core elements in PIEs One

This "Handy Guide" from 2013* outlined the key elements to consider, in becoming a PIE, using that 'classic' PIEs One formulation.

"The handy guide to being a PIE" (2013) from Robin Johnson.

(But DO see also the 2018 remake of the Handy Guide, which updates this earlier account with the 'PIEs 2.0' version.)

Or for a very, VERY brief account of the 'classic' model, see the presentation  HERE 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.

NB: These videos, and Claire Ritchie's' toolkit', provide a rather quicker introduction than two other definitive statements, which are the otherwise essential reading.


Early UK government guidance

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.


For Chat GPT's account of 'what makes for a PIE' :  HERE

For research on PIEs using the PIEs One framework : HERE