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:
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.