PIE: Psychologically Informed Environments

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How we modify our ways of working to be considerate of those with adverse childhood experiences and trauma in their pasts

What are Psychologically Informed Environments?

At The Wallich, we strive to create psychologically informed environments (or PIE) for our service users to successfully engage with services – taking into account their history and experiences prior to engaging with us.

We recognise that people experiencing homelessness disproportionately tend to have had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or trauma. Therefore, we need to be prepared for this to remain sensitive and accessible for all.

Not everybody without a home will have experienced trauma in their past. However, compared to the general population, those with one or more ACEs are more likely to go on to become homeless, or suffer from poor mental health or substance misuse.

Just because someone has experienced trauma in their past, they should not be defined by this, but it should be taken into account when offering support.

Working with PIE experts Kinbee, we do everything we can to remove any physical or psychological barriers which might prevent them from making the most of the support on offer.


What does a Psychologically Informed Environment look like?

The five key principles of PIE are:

  1. Relationship-building: a focus on relationships (between staff and clients, clients and peers and beyond) as a tool for change.
  2. Staff support: staff are supported to become more confident and resilient.
  3. Physical environments: should not feel clinical or institutional but safe and welcoming.
  4. Psychological framework: the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
  5. Evidence-generating practice: a focus on the continuous development and improvement of support.

There are a number of possible elements to a truly psychologically informed environment including:

  • Modifying processes and procedures to be mindful of potential triggers.
  • Reflecting on body language and tone of voice.
  • Considering neurodiversity.
  • Changing the décor, light and furnishings.
  • Providing access to counselling through our Reflections Network.
  • Building confidence an opportunities to pursue therapeutic activities such as sport or the arts.

Embodying a safe, homely space for people who have experienced trauma to thrive.

Why is PIE important?

The Welsh Government guidelines for the Housing Support Grant (HSG) advise:

“Services should be commissioned and delivered using a psychologically informed approach that recognises and responds appropriately to the impact of trauma”.

At The Wallich, we consider ourselves to be leaders in this field and will continue to develop our services and share good practice.

How can I find out more about PIE?

If you would like to know more about how we ‘PIE’ our projects, please contact our PIE Operational Development Manager, Anthony Vaughan.


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