Psychologically Informed Environments

Working with organisations to create a change in culture

More and more research is being conducted into the way organisations handle mental health, particularly when it comes to homelessness. People who find themselves homeless may have experienced complex trauma, be impulsive or have difficulty managing their emotions, and yet the systems and processes of support services may not consider the importance of placing mental health support first. Using this research, we have created psychologically informed cultures in many varied organisations from different sectors, supporting and developing staff, leaders, managers, service users and production.

What is a Psychologically Informed Environment?

Psychologically Informed Environments, or PIEs, is a method of creating a place that puts psychological practices in every aspect of the organisation, from the team to physical space and protocols. The aim is to create a safe, supportive environment for those who are vulnerable, considering the problems they face and working in a more constructive way. The practice can be applied to all kinds of working environments.

PIEs are based on five elements:

  • Relationships
  • Staff support and training
  • Physical environments and social spaces
  • Psychological frameworks
  • Evidence generating practice

Ultimately, it is relationships that are the key to a positive cultural shift. Those working within the organisation will take into account the way a person thinks and feels, why they behave in a particular way, what experiences they have gone through. Their reactions will become more considered, and they will have a better understanding of how to help those in need.

In order to achieve this, staff support and training must be delivered to the whole team, including board members, executives, management and front-line staff. Not only do behaviours change, but the way in which protocols are written and run, and the design of physical environments, change too.

How PIEs are created

The bottom line is that creating a considered Psychologically Informed Environment takes time.

Firstly, the Fortis Therapy & Training team will observe the day-to-day running of the organisation in order to fully understand the way in which its run, the behaviour and reactions of the staff, and the impact this has on anyone needing support.

The next step is to conduct a confidential, facilitated consultation and then reflective practice. This will allow the whole team to reflect on the way they work, management styles and reactions to various situations, as well as share ideas for moving forward. Training and development will then take place over a period of time, making necessary changes to frameworks and practice that generates evidence showing a positive cultural shift, measuring results for future evaluations and further development.

We began working with Fortis in February 2017. The communication and planning were excellent and helped us devise a training and development programme that was tailored to our organisation's specific needs. Working towards a Psychologically Informed Environment has not only improved the service we deliver, it has also changed the way we support each other as a staff team.

By combining theory based training with regular reflective practice, staff are able to engage with the training material and relate it back to their everyday practice. It also helps staff to problem solve together and deal with the challenging emotions that go alongside supporting people with complex needs. We have received a lot of positive feedback from our front-line staff about both the training and reflective practice.

Engaging in this process has not always been easy as it is very different to how we were used to working so we are very grateful to Fortis, who have provided a knowledgeable, consistent and supportive presence throughout.

YMCA Humber

Mental health in the workplace enquiries

To discuss any concerns you may have, or for more information about therapy, mediation, coaching, training, clinical supervision or reflective practice within your organisation, give us a call on 01472 241794 or email [email protected]

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