About Us

CALMA is run by Rick Hughes and Kirsty Blain both of whom are actively and currently working in senior wellbeing-related roles in their organisations. CALMA represents a private, part-time enterprise where they pull together their 50 years cumulative experience for the exclusive benefit of Retreat guests. As such, CALMA runs sporadically.

Rick is Head of Service for the Counselling Service at the University of Aberdeen, managing a large team of counsellors and providing a therapeutic service for a diverse and international student community of some 15,000.

Kirsty is Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Pain Management Service at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Woodend Hospital, specialising in acute and post-operative pain management with extensive knowledge of acute, chronic and palliative pain, as well as widespread multi-specialist nursing experience gained in the UK and abroad.

MBACP, MPhil, BA (Hons), DipC, DipM

Rick trained as a Counsellor in the mid 1990's, initially in Georgia USA, then at Strathclyde University under Professor Dave Mearns, after which he co-edited his first book, 'Experiences of Person-Centred Counselling Training', which is now recommended reading on many UK counselling courses. He then researched 'Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace' for his MPhil.

He gained experience as a Counsellor in Primary Care, Education and the Workplace, then founded 'Edinburgh Coaching & Counselling' (ECC), headed up Person-Centred Therapy (PCT) Glasgow Ltd and become the Northern UK Counsellor for a global pharmaceutical company.

He was lured to the UK's largest (at the time) employee assistance programme provider, taking up a senior role at Independent Counselling & Advisory Services (ICAS). Here Rick specialised as case manager for most of the UK's rail operators, concentrating on trauma support. At ICAS, as well as privately, Rick provided post-trauma support after 9/11, the London Bombings and the Asian Tsunami.

In 2002, Rick became Deputy Chair of the Association for Counselling at Work and was appointed the specialist journal editor for 'Counselling at Work', a post he held for 9 years. He joined the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) in 2008 as their Lead Advisor: Workplace as an advocate, advisor and ambassador for talking therapies in the workplace, for practitioners, business and the UK government.

A frequent contributor to the national media, trade and business press, Rick has published several books - see BOOKS. Rick is a registered member of BACP (counselling), the UK Psychological Trauma Society (trauma) and subscribes to the coaching code of ethics from the International Coach Federation (coaching).

As well as enjoying the outdoors, Rick has dabbled in screenwriting, winning a BAFTA Nomination for one of his film scripts.


Kirsty commenced nurse training in 1990 at Foresterhill College and after registering as a General Nurse gained experience in a variety of clinical settings; renal dialysis, general medical and theatre nursing, during which time she completed an anaesthetic nursing module through Robert Gordon University (RGU).  After gaining 5 years solid grounding in nursing practice, she move to Christchurch, New Zealand working as a staff nurse in a busy general teaching hospital, again working in a variety of settings; paediatrics, A&E, medical, surgical and ITU.

A further year travelling allowed her to venture to many more parts of the world such as South America, South East Asia, Indonesia and Australia. Returning to Scotland, Kirsty continued to work in theatre, primarily in trauma and emergency theatres. In 2006 she completed a diploma in Swedish Therapeutic Massage through the University of Aberdeen. Later in 2009 she trained in Pain Management through RGU and has since returned to teach individuals attending the same course.

Kirsty's extensive nursing experience in a wide range of settings enables her to apply a multi-specialist approach to health and wellbeing. Whilst informed by sound clinical judgement and best practice protocols, she adopts a biopsychosocial, person-centred and mindful approach to patient care.

Despite a travel experience in Columbia where she was held up at gunpoint by bandits, Kirsty has a keen interest in nature and enjoys the outdoors, fulfilling her passion for wildlife, adventurous sports and expeditions.