In my previous post, I said that there are dangers of doing what we have always done and being astounded that we continue to get the same results. We are committed to embracing change both in our thinking and our actions. But what does that mean in practice?
Goleudy has committed to three strands of innovation: transforming the type of accommodation we offer, developing a stronger emphasis on prevention and creating connections, and ensuring that our services are psychologically informed. In this post, I want to talk about our unique journey towards ensuring our services are ‘PIE’s’ (psychologically informed environments).
Across the housing and support world we have spent the last few years talking about PIE. In both public policy and in practices adopted by services, the UK’s housing narrative has been dominated by discussions of adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s), trauma informed work, and PIE. Many of the models suggest a five pillars approach.
Goleudy’s is no exception; these are our five:
1. Psychological Awareness
2. Spaces of Opportunity
3. Training and Support
5. Learning and Enquiry
The literature seems to suggest it is common for organisations to either adopt a mode of psychology or employ the services of a psychologist to help shape the organisations approach. Although we followed this path in some respects, we have diverged in others. Goleudy has forged a partnership with an organisation called the Psychological Therapies Unit – Working Conversations. Their psychologists preferentially use Solution Focus Practice to carry out most of their work. Interestingly they specialise in trauma, which would seem to more than qualify them to advise Goleudy in our efforts to be ‘trauma informed’.
We selected solution focus practice (SFP), as the model upon which we base our thinking and support as long ago as 2011, but it was in 2018 when we configured our use of the approach as part of our PIE. Strictly speaking SFP is not really a mode of psychology as such, mostly because it is socially constructed, and not really considered ‘medicine’. SFP was pioneered in Milwaukee, USA, in the 1980s by Steve De Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. 40 years on the approach is now a global phenomenon and has amassed an impressive body of evidence to demonstrate its efficacy.
Rather than making ‘truth claims’ about human beings, or having a basis in biological medicine, SFP makes a set of assumptions about clients, which Goleudy has embraced in its PIE model:
• Every client is unique and is always doing their best
• Clients arrive with strengths and resources
• Clients are the best experts in their own lives and come with their own solutions
• Small change can make a big difference
For me, the emergence of PIE in the housing world raises a fundamental question. How do we think about our clients, in our line of work? I think this has to be the first step in a chain of reasoning, that will lead to a good outcome for the client.
Because we, at Goleudy, think about clients as being unique and always doing their best, we do not have to concern ourselves with:
• Making judgments on people’s behaviour
• Concerns about clients being motivated
• Notions of clients not engaging
In fact, because the SFP model requires absolutely no knowledge of ‘the problem’, ‘underlying trauma’, or ‘causation’, the worker can focus on what the client does want, what is already happening that is useful, and what the next small steps might look like.
We have begun to measure the difference made by taking this approach. In future posts I will talk about the evidence for our claims, and our research partnership with the University of Liverpool.