Risk assessment is notoriously difficult and offers a particular challenge to mental health workers. There are two main conceptual approaches to the consideration of risk assessment and management: the actuarial and the clinical methods. I use case material to examine the clinical, and in particular the psychodynamic, approach in order to illustrate that violent behaviour has meaning. Understanding its meaning and learning from it can substantially reduce the risks of further violent behaviour. Managing risk with the aid of psychodynamic psychotherapy enables the patient to become aware of his or her own mind and its function. Although this process may initially be distressing to the patient, in the longer term the aim is to enable the development of a healthier, more stable internal reality. This should, in turn, reduce the risk of dangerous acting out.