Drawing on the personal accounts of victims, offenders and convenors, this article is a literary review, extracting the major philosophical and practical considerations in conferencing crimes of severe violence. It proposes that the pertinent question is not whether conferencing is appropriate following certain crimes, but whether it will reduce the harm caused in given circumstances. Such reduction of harm, it is argued, relies heavily on the narrative aspect of the conferencing process. Because such an assessment is context specific, this article proposes that the value of conferencing following crimes of severe violence is highly dependant on the level of expertise of the convenor, and the extent to which the process is victimdriven. In exploring these issues, the article discusses matters relating specifically to cases of homicide, sexual offences and family violence.