The fabric falls apart: keep weaving.

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The fabric falls apart: keep weaving.

Increasingly my work has become a dance and a weaving with metaphors. The power of metaphor is manifold. Metaphors allow us to think and feel things for which we have no words; they allow us to play with the properties of the unknown through something which is materially present; the entity chosen as metaphor has its own lessons to teach us in its own right separate from the metaphorical uses we wish to put it to.

The metaphor of weaving is the one I have been playing with in a new programme of group supervision I have developed and am co-facilitating with my colleague Zayaan Buffkins, a coach from South Africa. This new approach has grown out of the process Critically Reflective Action Learning (CRAL) I wrote about in January 2023 a piece entitled A Decolonial Take on Ethical Maturity which offers a case study exemplifying the CRAL process. The attraction of this approach to group supervision for me was in its social justice orientation. The research base for CRAL was developed in social work (*1), it has been repurposed by me for coaching supervision. After two years working with the approach it has metamorphosed into the reimagined, remodelled process I now call Critically Reflective Inspirative Action Learning (CRIAL).  

It is much easier to represent the difference between the two processes visually rather than focusing on the significance of introducing one new word. The first image in a sequence of three you can see that the CRAL process looks much like it felt, linear and solution focused. 

8 step sequence of descending spirals.

This linearity may have been more about how I facilitated the process than in any inherent features and this is as much a story of my personal development as a group supervisor and facilitator as it is about the evolution of an approach. What attracted me to it originally was the intentional Zooming Out in step 5 which  enabled groups facilitated through this process to relate the issues being explored beyond the micro ( individual), meso (inter-relational) to the  macro/exco (wider economic, social, cultural and political) context to see what that might reveal about the dimensions of the issues being explored.

While this process is underpinned by social justice intent and invites a critically reflective approach through its focus on the socio-macro dimensions of power the model was not expansive enough to avoid the trap that solution focused methodologies tend toward. That is the trap of thinking that we can fix complex issues through applying our intellect without transforming ourselves. To use myself as an example: I have to be open to the ways in which I  as women might show up in sustaining systems of patriarchy  or  the ways in which I as a black woman might show up in the reproduction of whiteness and supremacist practices and structures. I act on the basis that systems are not only external to us, they also live in ways we may not recognised until we encounter a challenge to our world view. 

All of us, whatever our identity, are entangled in the structures we are socialised into even as rebels and dissenters. There was something about CRAL that did not create space for this depth of reflexivity. Rather than being tied to struggling for solutions I wanted to create a free space (*2) where my participants and I could prefigure the ways of being we wanted to see in the world, while navigating what is and looking or working to create the conditions for trying to up scale these other ways of being beyond our free space.

Responding to the felt sense of the limitations of CRAL, engaging in reflective practice with my colleague Zayaan, the CRAL methodology frayed and unravelled, come away from the loom, for something new and more expansive to be rewoven out of parts of the old cloth with something shimmering and golden added. Gossamer and spider web strong. We ( as a supervision group)  had to confront whiteness in the form of linearity, fixed binaries, the pressure to action and the pressure to be accountable for outcomes. CRIAL was the result. Looking at the image below hopefully communicates the shift.



These portals guide not only the reflected processes but also embodied, immersive processes for surfacing what is not consciously present, the unknown and sometimes the unsayable. Instead of numbered, sequential steps we work through rounds that may arise and return as in a spiral or moving constellation.

Beyond Vision

I have long wanted to lose the prefix Super from the name we have given



to what is essentially a reflective practice and professional development partnership. It speaks too much to the origins of the term in clinical supervision as practised in the regulated professions of psychiatry and psychotherapy. There is the perhaps unspoken suggestion too of a policing role based on hierarchy and compliance. Of course, supervision has been trying to lose these associations and done so in the way the word is written for example as SuperVision. While this emphases the practice of seeing it does not shift the implied power dynamic. The prefix ‘Supra’ means going beyond and does not have the suggestion of more than, better than, or somehow higher up the ladder.


To understand what we are going beyond we need to consider what the word vision suggests in western cultures. The term vision tends to elevate the visual sense and its link to cognition above ways of knowing via our other senses and the combined importance of exploring through each as a different perspective on reality. The focus on vision is also often used in our education systems to privilege liner, binary logic in thinking. For me the term Supra– vision means valuing cognitive and meta-cognitive thinking without separating it from embodied ways of knowing, sensing, and connection. In this way we resist binary and closed systems of logic, opening ourselves up to the dance between structure/the known and emergence/chaos. We open up possibilities by moving beyond an over reliance on ‘vision’. This, while not being a new idea, has a fresh energy in a world being driven by polarising forces.


This is an experimental practice in (at least) three ways:

  • Firstly, this approach will flow through embodied pluriversality – the meeting of our diverse, multiple worlds, co-creating a space in which we each can live, learn, create anti-oppressive, liberatory change and thriving.
  • Secondly, a Supravisor is a facilitator attuned to decoloniality as a way of being in the world. Supervisors are trained within Western, Eurocentric schools of supervision, clinical or non-clinical. We aim to expand it..
  • Thirdly, we will take an autoethnographic, decolonial, approach which recognises and connects the individual, collective and spiritual to wider socio-cultural, ecological, political, and economic materialities.  Developing meanings, awareness, critical understanding, and sensuous presence to serve social change oriented toward greater equality, equity, (re)generative justice, creativity, and healing. 

Within this context coaching and supravisory relationships are defined as co-creative, negotiated relationships of reciprocal empowerment through conscientization. I will say no more about conscientization in the next post.  

CRIAL  is consciously, ethically transparent, and intentional in relation to its philosophical base. A philosophy that eschews neutrality except as a conscious tactic used in support of anti-oppressive practices, even here the purpose and function of neutrality must be declared as well as its boundaries.

To serve anti-oppressive values, power and vulnerability is sensuously attended to at all levels of awareness; individual, interrelation, system, and structure. Core coaching practices: contracting, presencing, co-creating, listening, exploring, questioning, feedback, valuing and reviewing are set against this background. 

I look forward to charting the progress of this work in up coming blog posts


*1 Morley, Christine, and Charlie O’Bree (2021) Critical Reflection: An Imperative Skill for Social Work Practice in Neoliberal Organisations? Social Sciences: 3: 97, 1-17.

*2 Anton Törnberg (2021) Prefigurative politics and social change: a typology

drawing on transition studies, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 22:1, 83-107.