Psychological awareness 101

Please note; we are in the midst of a thorough re-construction of these pages. For the moment, there may be some duplication of material from elsewhere; and probably some broken links. Bear with us. Its a lot to cover......


We have described a psychologically informed environment as  “one that takes into account the psychological make-up – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience – of its participants, in the way it operates."

Adding: “But as all human social environments tend to do that to some degree, we tend now to reserve the term for those environments - places, services -  that do so consciously, and with some particular purpose or goals in mind. “

So for the PIEs 2.0 framework, we see 'psychological awareness' as potentially operating at any level within any service.

  • The first - and by far the most necessary – is the one we simply call 'psychological' or perhaps 'emotional awareness' . This is the psychology that we all have, and use, as human beings.
  • The second is the use of particular techniques, which might often be drawn from ‘psychology’, in a more technical sense.
  • The third is the adoption, within a service, of a particular ‘psychological model’, to shape and guide many or all aspects of the services’ work.

It is that broader 'psychological awareness' or 'emotional intelligence' that is the bedrock on which a PIE is built; and for many services, it can sufficient to create the level of responsiveness that creates a PIE. Certainly without it, nothing else will.

It is sometimes thought that a ‘psychological model’ is necessary for any service, to call itself a PIE. But that’s really true only if by ‘psychological model’ we mean 'psychological awareness', in the more informal, less technical sense. Don't make it any more  complicated than it needs to be.

It is for this reason that the PIEs self-assessment module, the Pizazz (HERE), uses 'psychological awareness' as the 'high level' theme for this whole 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.


Clustering practice issues

NB:  For more on the thinking behind creating this cluster of issues theme as a central theme for PIEs, see: 'Psychological awareness in action', in the Discussions section : HERE



Further background reading/listening/viewing

The other key features of the revised version are:

  • Staff Training and Support HERE
  • Learning and Enquiry HERE
  • Spaces of Opportunity HERE
  • The Three Rs HERE

So: where is 'relationships' in the PIEs 2.0 framework? HERE

For more on the development of these areas, see:

PIEs 2.0 - the development process HERE

Pizazz: A new and more customisable working framework for PIEs HERE


Further reading

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


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


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