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11 March, 2024
News Story

What is a Psychologically-Informed Environment (PIE)?

Susan Smith is Head of Support Services at Your Place. Here she discusses the Psychologically-Informed Environment (PIE), and the ways in which it sets the foundations for helping us solve homelessness one person at a time.

At Your Place, we pride ourselves on providing a Psychologically-Informed Environment (PIE) to our residents, who have faced homelessness and are on different journeys towards living independently. But what does this mean? It’s important that we define the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, so it’s easier to understand the support we can offer to people who have experienced trauma and are working through different life situations.

A Psychologically-Informed Environment, put simply, is a place that is designed to meet the psychological needs of those who use it. The physical environment in which this support takes place matters, as it needs to feel welcoming and safe, and make people feel valued, but that is only one aspect. Respectful and trusting relationships between everybody are vital, as is creating a space where people are not judged, but instead are valued as equal human beings, and have their strengths recognised. A place where traumas and histories are acknowledged but the focus is on the future, and people are supported through the barriers holding them back and live positive, fulfilling lives.



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So how does a PIE fit in with Your Place values?

Compassion – We seek to approach people with kindness and compassion, to recognise their experiences, but to also help them to move forward. In doing so, we understand that trauma will have a different effect on every individual. Working in psychologically-informed ways, we work with people to remove barriers to their progress and identify what they need to move forward. Above all, at Your Place we care about people and recognise a fundamental value in each and every one of us.

Inclusion –We approach each person as an individual, and recognise that their specific experience, background, culture, gender, etc., will shape who they are, and what is important to them. We celebrate the power of their individuality, taking the time to understand what people have gone through, and acknowledging their strengths. Lived experience is something to be listened to and validated, and we provide a safe space, and a community to which everyone can contribute.

Growth – We believe in the possibility of change, and that each person has the ability to move forward and build a meaningful and fulfilling life for themselves. We recognise that each of us is on a journey and we are all at different stages, and aspiring for different outcomes. By meeting people where they are currently and walking alongside them, we can support them to achieve their goals.

Collaboration – We seek to give control of the journey to the individual and recognise that they are the experts on their own lives. Agreeing the best route forward for the individual is done by working with people to identify goals and the best way to achieve them. We seek to develop understanding and use the strengths and experience of those involved to empower them, build capacity and resilience, and move forward together.

As you’ll notice, it is a real collective, collaborative effort to ensure the effectiveness of a Psychologically-Informed Environment, and it is something that lies at the heart of the service we provide at Your Place. Placing the individual at the heart of our work together drives our work forward, as we live out our mission of solving homelessness one person at a time.


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