In psychotherapy, the working alliance signifies a therapeutically useful client–therapist relationship and includes an emotional bond. However, there exist no theories of how program users relate to online programs, or that explain a person-to-program bond theoretically. Addressing this gap, we conducted qualitative interviews with and collected program data from users of a self-guided web-based intervention. Taking a grounded theory approach, the analysis arrived at a model of relating based on two relational modes—making come-alive and keeping un-alive. Different combinations of these modes could describe a range of ways of relating to the program, including a nonsocial interaction, a semi-social interaction, and a semi-social relationship. A person-to-program bond is explained by the model as an experienced supportive social presence, enabled by making come-alive and a positive program interaction.
Qualitative Health Research, 2020,30 (6), 927- 941