Homelessness and Psychologically Informed Environments: Understanding and Responding to the Trauma and Challenges Experienced by Homeless Individuals

  • Charlotte Hames

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


Homelessness is a global issue that continues to rise in many countries across the world. This thesis, titled 'Homelessness and Psychologically Informed Environments: Understanding and Responding to the Trauma and Challenges Experienced by Homeless Individuals' has been prepared by Charlotte Hames and attempts to address issues associated with homelessness and evaluate the strides to improve care for homeless individuals. It has been submitted to The University of Manchester for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (School of Health Sciences). Firstly, a systematic review and critical appraisal was conducted exploring psychosocial factors affecting suicidal thoughts and behaviours in homeless youth. Following a systematic search, twenty-nine papers met inclusion criteria. Findings indicate that trauma and adverse childhood experiences have a relationship with suicidal thoughts and behaviours, as well as lack of resilience and risk behaviours such as substance use and survival sex. Interventions in homeless services that aim to be trauma informed, such as Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs), or those designed to increase resilience may go some way to reducing risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours for homeless youth. However, as a challenging group to identify and engage, incentives may need to adapt or be developed to adequately meet the needs of homeless youth in order to reduce suicide thoughts and behaviours. Limitations implications for future research were considered. Secondly, an empirical study was conducted. This employed Q-methodology to explore staff attitudes towards Psychologically Informed Environments in homeless services reflecting that staff attitudes towards intervention can impact success of implementation and development. Staff were recruited from Council, NHS and voluntary sector organisations in Greater Manchester. Findings from conducting Q-factor analysis indicated a two-factor solution in which factor 2 was comprised mostly of NHS staff. Staff loading onto factor 1 endorsed statements supporting relational components of PIEs, whereas staff loading onto factor 2 endorsed statements focussed more on procedural aspects. Staff loading onto factor 2 also, overall, rated their PIEs as being further developed than staff loading onto factor 1. Reflection on these findings and implications for implementation of PIEs are discussed. Finally, a critical reflection paper was produced to consider the process of conducting research, particularly during the COVID pandemic, and to reflect on the findings from both papers in more detail. Methodology, procedure, and results of both papers 1 and 2 are considered.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDaniel Pratt (Supervisor)


  • Homelessness
  • Psychologically Informed Environments
  • Q-Methodology
  • Homeless Youth

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