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Implementing a psychologically informed environment in a service for homeless young people

Jeremy Woodcock (Consultant Psychotherapist, based at Cotswold Psychotherapy Practice, Gloucestershire, UK)
Jamie Gill (Director, based at 1625 Independent People, Bristol, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 12 March 2014




The purpose of this paper is to describe the attempts by one youth homelessness service to implement the conceptual ideas of the psychologically informed environment (PIE) into a practical and beneficial service for very challenging young people who have been homeless, are leaving care or have left custody.


The approach of the paper is descriptive, outlining the thinking behind a PIE with young people and the operationalising of this understanding in the day-to-day practice of the service.


Although homelessness and housing support staff are not therapists, the nature of the work entails a need for understanding and sensitivity, and the activities of the service are designed to create positive opportunities and relationships. Reflective practice, supervision and evaluation are then essential tools in developing a “learning organisation”, where the collective dynamics at an organisational level support the psychological work of the PIE.

Research limitations/implications

The implications for homelessness work that can be drawn from the outcome of this project is to better understand how the PIE linked to the concept of a learning organisation can provide a truly robust framework for providing a service that can evolve harmoniously, tying in disparate funding streams to offer very challenging young people an outstanding service that addresses their homelessness and its underlying causes.

Practical implications

The practical implications shown are the psychological skills that can be developed in housing workers; the limits of those skills and how they are complemented by partnership work with other voluntary sector organisations and mainstream health providers; how the ideas of the learning organisation can naturally underpin the work of the PIE.


The combination of the concept of the learning organisation, reflective practice and the PIE provides a highly original and truly robust framework for providing housing workers with the psychological tools to make a transformative difference in the lives of especially vulnerable young homeless people.



Woodcock, J. and Gill, J. (2014), "Implementing a psychologically informed environment in a service for homeless young people", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 48-57.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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