New resource on creating Psychologically Informed Environments

October 28, 2015

Westminster City Council and Connections at St Martin’s have commissioned a new guide to creating a Psychologically Informed Environment within services. It draws on advice originally developed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, and presents it in an easy-to-use format.

There’s been growing interest in psychologically informed practice, and our recent report Solutions from the Frontline recommended that frontline services should think about the environments where they deliver support, and involve staff and people with multiple needs in designing them.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

A Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) “… is one that takes into account the psychological makeup – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience – of its participants in the way that it operates.” It’s an approach to supporting people out of homelessness, in particular those who have experienced complex trauma or are diagnosed with a personality disorder. It also considers the psychological needs of staff: developing skills and knowledge, increasing motivation, job satisfaction and resilience.

Many of the clients homeless services work with seem to have difficulty managing their emotions, appear impulsive and do not consider the consequences of their actions. Some may be withdrawn, isolated and reluctant to engage or exhibit anti-social behaviour. The purpose of a PIE is to help staff understand where these behaviours are coming from and therefore work more creatively and constructively with challenging behaviours.

Aimed primarily at homelessness services, the guide covers five key elements of a psychologically informed approach: relationships; staff support and training; the physical environment and social spaces; a psychological framework; and evidence generating practice. It also includes helpful links to a range of other resources on the topic.

You can download the guide as a PDF.