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Reflections on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE)

Reflections on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE)

Reflections on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Harriet Morris, from Justlife Brighton, reflects on what she learnt from a recent Frontline Network event focusing on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE).

Over the past few months I have been part of the team helping to organise the Frontline Workers Network Meetings. It has been a really interesting experience for me, learning just how many services there are out there in Brighton and the wealth of skills, knowledge and experience these frontline workers have.

On 6 September 2017 we had our 5th Frontline Workers Network Meeting, where we enjoyed delicious pie whilst learning about Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE). We heard from three speakers who are actively using the PIE approach in their workplaces: Tara O’Neil, a Clinical Psychologist working supporting frontline workers, Fran Byron from Fulfilling Lives, and Greg Headley from the Passage Charity Link project. We then had a discussion, sharing our questions and ideas with one another about this concept.

PIE was a new concept to me and here are some of the highlights I picked up:

1. PIE was developed in response to the needs of people who are homeless, as a way of working that takes into account people’s past trauma (especially in early childhood) and how that is affecting their behaviour.

2. The important thing to remember is that PIE is not an organisation, it is a framework or approach to working. It is not a prescriptive set of rules or regulations of how to work either, there are different interpretations of what working with PIE means. As each person we work with is an individual, the approach must reflect this.

3. Its premise is to help staff work in an emotionally informed way, not just diagnostically. It is always developing and evolving. It is a means for staff to consider all aspects of a person’s experience of their interaction, from their verbal communication to the physical space that they are meeting in. This approach helps us to understand people’s behaviour better and prepare for our interactions more thoughtfully.

4. PIE is an emotionally intelligent approach and one of the keys to it is consistency of approach across an organisation.

5. PIE also encourages space for staff to have regular reflective sessions, training and support, to help them respond to what they are experiencing, learn from one another and feel contained.

6. Fran from Fulfilling Lives shared that since putting PIE into practice in her organisation she has become much more effective in her work and has much less burnout.

I found the session really useful in terms of learning more about PIE - what it means, how frontline workers are implementing the approach, the difference it has made in the workplace, and how it has enabled frontline workers to have a deeper and richer understanding of their clients and their behaviour. 

Want to know more? Check out Pielink for more info.

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