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Bob Van Oosterhout

About Bob Van Oosterhout

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Bob Van Oosterhout

Bring Truth to Fear

Bob Van Oosterhout is Masters Level Psychologist and Licensed Masters Social Worker in Dexter, MI. Bob started counseling in 1972 and worked in residential facilities, community mental health clinics, non-profit organizations, and a Federally Qualified Health Center. He was asked to develop a course in stress management by the Health Careers Department at Lansing Community College and taught it for thirty-eight years (18 years online). He provided training in a range of mental health topics for health care facilities, professional organizations, corporations, and the State of Michigan and is the author of “Slow Down and Lighten Up: Letting Go of Stress and Tension.”

Bob has had a strong interest in identifying core principles and essential functions in mental health for over fifty years. This thinking informed his approach to counseling, teaching, and community organizing. He realized that fear played a significant role in almost all problems people brought to him and found that restoring physical, mental, and emotional balance allowed them to transform fear into caution, care, and concern while learning to effectively manage challenges they faced. 

Bob co-founded The Hard Times Café (HTC), an empowerment program totally owned and operated by people in poverty in 1991, and advised and facilitated the program until 2000. He developed a model for understanding empowerment that he used along with HTC patrons to train hundreds of Michigan Social Workers. In 1997, with HTC as lead planning agency, he designed a planning process that resulted in Clare County being one of twenty communities designated as a Federal Enterprise Zone out of 20,000 applicants.

Bob started a project called Bring Truth to Fear in 2016 in response to what he discerned as core problems facing our world today: Fear and lack of respect for truth. He identified a pattern called Fear Based Thinking (FBT) where the short-term reaction to fear becomes structured in how we see and think about our world and each other. Bring Truth to Fear integrates understanding and recognizing fear and FBT with Media Literacy, Critical Thinking, and Social Emotional Learning to bring people together for meaningful conversations to address divisiveness. This was put on hold when Bob was injured in a fire in December 2017.

Bob has recently returned to full health and is working on three inter- related books: “Balance: Essentials of Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health and Effectiveness;” “Understanding Fear and Fear Based Thinking: A Path to True Freedom;” and, “The Essential Choice: Love or Fear.” He’s part of a team designing a video game where students develop media literacy skills and recognize how fear and FBT is used in media and politics while learning to work together to solve complex problems. Bob is interested in developing programs and materials to support schools and community groups in addressing the divisiveness and conditional belonging that keeps us from seeing ourselves and each other more clearly with more open hearts.

Bob's website is  He is available for counseling, coaching, and consultation and can be reached at