A focused division within DrawHistory, Counterbrace is a social research and learning lab that goes where others won’t, to investigate and evolve the unjust systems holding society back.

Counterbrace (formerly known as SynqUp) is the evolution of a practice Kosta Lucas has led since 2016. We combine rich social research with grounded community practice to investigate and address complex and polarising challenges — from extremism to climate anxiety and everything in between — in order to evolve the unjust systems holding society back.


To learn more about Counterbrace’s inception and evolution, you can read more in our blog below.

Our Approach

How can we develop civically-minded communities that prevent harm and prompt participation?

How can we make space to build a common understanding of each other, our goals, and our communities?

How can we help traditional institutions evolve as their memberships continue to decline?

How can we better understand what is true for our communities?


We have a collective approach to problem-solving that starts with the diverse people we’re designing for and ends with new solutions that solve real problems. Each inquiry starts with understanding that solutions lie in the communities where the problem is experienced.

Guided by lived experience

We believe that organizations and individuals should realise and recognize the prevalence of trauma, understand how trauma affects all individuals involved in a community, and respond by putting that knowledge into practice.


We know that research is always part of the context in which it takes place. Our team holds space to account for power imbalances in order to allow multiple nuanced perspectives to manifest through our work.

What we do
Decoding attitudes and actions

We seek out useful revelations about people and the world we live in to craft local and global cultural fluency.

Guiding community traction

We develop strategies for community leaders and their organizations through comprehensive analysis of relevant social issues.

Humanizing online data

We identify and excavate patterns of data on current and emerging behaviours through forensic investigation of online content.

Training for collective impact

We provide moderation, tools, advisory, and resources for capacity-building across organizations in the name of collective impact.

Research & Insights

  • Future Foresight
  • Trends Forecasting
  • Generational Research
  • Semiotics & Cultural Insights
  • Segment Discovery & Illumination
  • Consumer Behavior Insights

Community Engagement

  • Consultation Design and Delivery
  • Community Program Development
  • Non-traditional Stakeholder Engagement
  • Dialogue Facilitation and Moderation
  • Community Education Resources
  • Activation Planning

Organizational Strategy

  • Organization Vision & Purpose
  • Process & Program Design
  • Change Management & Socialization
  • Capacity-Building Training and Tools

Working with people to investigate the unjust systems holding us back is an important piece of any social change strategy seeking to evolve them; so to is building the capacity of those on the frontlines, doing the important work everyday. Our workshops are designed and constantly refined to help communities navigate pressing social issues in today’s world, and evolve them from the ground up.

Talking Taboo: A Guide To Facilitating Brave Conversations

Talking Taboo is a two-day workshop about unlocking the power of group conversation to explore sensitive issues and allow this interrogation to make way for breakthroughs.


On Day 1, we seek to first understand the nature of taboo, why it exists, its function, and why it’s something that can impede progress in community settings but also reveal opportunities.


Approaching Day 2, we examine the role of facilitators in group conversations and use archetypes and mental models to embody the learnings of good facilitation.

The Fire of Will: Advocacy Strategy Design

The word “advocacy” has come to mean many things to many people, but at it’s heart it all advocacy – from signing a petition to protesting at the gates of power – are some of many ways to get people to care about your work and/or take a position on an issue; it’s about moving people from a state of awareness to a position to take action. But as all experienced advocates will tell you, the success hinges on whether you can ignite people’s will to act. 


This workshop will covers all aspects of of designing an advocacy strategy – change theory, understanding your audience, and impact measurement – with particular focus on unlocking the puzzle “will”, that ever elusive condition that makes any efforts successful.

Scars, Not Wounds: Co-Designing with People with Lived Experience

One of the core pillars of Counterbrace is to ensure that any program we work on is guided by lived experience wherever we can. However, while these personal perspectives enrich our work and ensure the intended beneficiaries of our projects are always front and centre, we also take on a responsibility to those whose voices and views we shepherd and translate into our work.


This workshop is about providing participants with our experience-based, empirically supported framework on how best to work with people with lived experience in a way that is not extractive, but enriching and restoring for all involved.

The Uber Driver and the Barber: Navigating Everyday Ideological Conflict

We interact with difference every single day, with conversation being one of the most common arenas to encounter these differences. But when it comes to differences of opinion on issues of social importance, this can be very challenging: ideas on how the world looks or should look. The good news is that with the right approach, there is more to be gained when we create the space for difference to emerge.


This workshop is built on very real examples of uncomfortable conversations that we know people can easily find themselves. Using practices from conversation therapy and conflict resolution theory, participants will learn about the dynamics underlying productive conflict and how maximise their ability to have impactful, transformational conversations with those important to them.

Counter Hate or Promote Love: Online Safety Planning

Whether you’re an aspiring content creator, an organisation with an online presence or even just your regular digital citizen, you may find yourself asking the question: “How can I make sure our online platforms are a safe place for my community to visit?”


While social media companies have policies regarding hate speech and misinformation, we still have a choice in what we do and don’t accept in our digital spaces. And with the internet being the way it is, some communities are at much higher risk of being subjected to hate speech and/or misinformation (“fake news”) on their platforms. Unfortunately, it is not always clear whether something is hate speech or misinformation.


This workshop is for anyone who wants to work out how they can make their spaces safer for their communities; whether its about making pro-social content or decisions about what to do if you think something on your platform is harmful or not trustworthy.

For Youth or For You?

In our experience, most people working to make impact in their respective areas of influence usually understand the value of having youth-perspectives in their programming. Having a high-level of youth participation in any given community initiative is generally attractive to not-for-profit organisations, government funders and philanthropic benefactors. It makes for great public relations and marketing photos. Yet, genuine youth engagement is also difficult for a number of reasons.


This workshop is for those wanting to understand the conditions for genuine, committed youth engagement in their programming.

“We Need To Synq Up”

Is there an issue or topic of conversation that needs to be had – e.g. within your interest group, with your community members or in your mission-driven workplace – in order to unblock the road to progress? Or to realign on a collective understanding? To create a shared language?


At Counterbrace, we are game and able to design and facilitate these tough conversations for you. We’ll help you figure out what will work best for your context.

Contact us today

Tell us where you want to go

Counterbrace is all about having the conversations you want to have, but can’t. Get in touch so we can help you explore the challenges and possibilities you want to unlock.

Fresh Ideas and Ideals. No Spam.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates on the latest insights, ideas, and discussions at the intersection of social change and creativity.