I met Alexis fortuitously at a wedding last year and we got chatting about work and what we do. Given my background in healthcare communications, particularly mental health, I was really interested to hear about how and why Alexis founded Fortis Therapy and Training. It was clear from that first meeting that Alexis is an absolute powerhouse, clear on what she wants to achieve and why that is important for people who need mental health support. (Have to say I was and still am a little in awe of her). I've followed along on social media and kept in touch, so I'm delighted Alexis agreed to be part of our Businesses Built on Passion series.
Fortis Therapy and Training - Alexis Powell-Howard - Managing Director (Psychotherapist & Systemic Practitioner)
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Fortis Therapy and Training is a multi-award-winning, national provider of therapeutic services and training in Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire, and beyond. With my team of passionate, non-judgemental therapists, we offer emotional wellbeing and mental health support to businesses, organisations, local authorities, schools, and private clients of all ages, genders, and circumstances across the whole of the UK.
What inspired you to set up Fortis Therapy and Training?
It is my own experience with trauma and mental health support that has motivated my business journey. When I was 19, I had two car accidents, one after the other within minutes of each other. I was injured badly by the second accident and eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and felt I had lost my identity and my purpose. So, I accessed therapy. Unfortunately, the therapists I worked with, had ways of working that I later realised, were unethical and unprofessional (I was too ill to realise at the time). I didn’t want other people to have the experience I had, especially when they are at their most vulnerable and so several years later, I completed my training to be a psychotherapist. In 2012, I set up Fortis to provide a mental health and training service that treats people as people, not as a number, giving them access to high quality services that are boundaried, trustworthy and caring.
What gave you the final nudge/ push to go for it?
Before starting Fortis, I was working as a Psychotherapist in the NHS. After quite a challenging time, where my values were challenged by the changes taking place, I took redundancy and decided to set up my own practice. Someone advised me at the time that I 'wouldn’t see the net until I jumped' and they were right! I dropped my hours to four days a week and worked on the business on the other day, by the time I left the NHS, Fortis was busy and I needed to be working on it full time. I wouldn't change the decision and what I do for the world.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
For Fortis to help as many people as possible, I realised I needed to spend more time working on my business rather than within. When it came to private clients, I always had the largest caseload and handled the most complex cases. While I am incredibly passionate about working 1:1, I understood that this limited my reach.
So, I have drastically reduced my caseload to enhance my leadership role. Now, my time is spent meeting with businesses, organisations and schools, facilitating workshops and courses, networking, writing proposals, creating and maintaining relationships, and enhancing Fortis' services and processes. This has been a challenge, but I know that by doing this, we can help create a more sustainable framework for mental health support.
Describe your greatest success/ the thing you are most proud of.
I am so proud of the Fortis journey and everything we have achieved so far, particularly when it comes to the customer service and the quality of care we provide to our clients. In 2019 so far, we have won three national awards including Best Service-Based (Business Excellence Forum & Awards), At Your Service and Best Small Business (The Small Awards). We couldn’t have done this without the Fortis team of therapists, who are passionate about providing excellent mental health care, who share the same vision for Fortis’ way of working and want to help create a more mindful environment.
What motivates you to keep forging ahead with your business?
Recently, Fortis received this feedback from one of our clients, a Police Force we are working with to improve workplace culture: “I am aware that at least two members have been sent with extreme personal safety issues and due to the intervention of the Fortis Team, they are still with us and out of danger now. There can be no higher praise than that.” We know that the work we are doing is changing lives, and this why I will always push Fortis Therapy and Training forward.
Thank you so much to Alexis for sharing her story with us here at Cat's Pajamas. We always feel inspired hearing about the journeys of others.
If you would like to find out more about Fortis Therapy and Training you can visit:
Facebook - @fortistherapyandtraining
Instagram - @fortistherapy
Twitter - @FortisTherapy