The authors propose guidlines for conducting psychotherapy in short-term general hospitals. They divide short-term psychiatric hospitalization into three phases, each of which presents different therapeutic tasks and calls for different therapeutic interventions and techniques. In phase one, when the patient is typically most distressed, the therapist and the patient must establish a therapeutic alliance and agree on the goals of therapy, a treatment contract, and limits on acting-out behavior. In phase two, the period of greatest comfort for the patient, the therapist must encourage the patient to focus on his goals while keeping the issue of discharge in the forefront of therapy. In phase three, the therapist helps the patient cope with separation issues that arise as he prepares for discharge.