Assessing Risk: A Relational Approach offers the practitioner a novel framework for understanding the complex and subtle issues involved in assessing and managing risks related to violence and sexual offending. The authors draw on their considerable experience working with high risk individuals in assessment and treatment. They have for many years consulted to practitioners in forensic mental health services and the criminal justice system and taught renowned courses at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


This book outlines a comprehensive model of risk which draws on mainstream empirical research, threat assessment, developmental psychopathology, attachment theory, and a relational model derived from psychoanalysis. The framework incorporates intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions and is designed to enhance the reader’s capacity to make a thorough risk formulation. The approach highlights the significance of childhood development in understanding violent and sexually violent acts, and the complicated interpersonal processes involved in managing individuals who have a propensity to violent enactment. These dynamic processes between people impact on risk and risk perception, and can distort judgement if not recognised and understood.


Assessing Risk will be of practical use in enhancing the skills of professionals to assess and manage risk in a comprehensive and effective way, and will appeal to all those mental health and criminal justice practitioners working with risky individuals.

chapter 1|7 pages


chapter 2|17 pages

Risky assessment

Making decisions about risk

chapter 4|19 pages

Relational issues in assessing and managing risk

The compulsion to repeat and the professional relationship

chapter 5|13 pages

Developmental aspects of adult enactment

chapter 8|13 pages

Female offending and risk

chapter 11|9 pages

Self-harm and suicide

chapter 12|15 pages

Assessment and communication skills

chapter 13|14 pages

Institutional dynamics and risk

chapter 14|16 pages

Formulating risk

A framework for assessing and managing dangerousness