Joann DiStefano

Co-Founder of GIFT Family Services, LLC
President, Coaching4Movement, Inc.
Adoption Coach

Joann is a certified relationship coach.  She has over 30 years’ experience in the family area.


Joann started her life work in the family area as an attorney. In her 20s, she worked cases as a prosecutor in the State's Attorney's Office in the areas of paternity and child abuse and neglect. She also worked as a guardian ad litem for the courts investigating solutions that would be in the best interest of a child.

Although Joann decided to become a full-time Mom after she adopted her children, she continued her work in the family field. Joann worked on committees that were instrumental in creating family and adoption material for use in schools. She also continued to work in the guardian ad litem office, at the Guardianship Assistance Desk, interviewing children in order to determine what would be in their best interest.

Joann became a coach in 2005 and then went on to receive her Master Certification in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) in 2007. Intrigued with her learning of how a person's internal system works in NLP, she decided to pursue archetypal work with Carolyn Myss in 2009. Through this work and her earlier studies, Joann has helped individuals achieve balance in their own life and ultimately relate harmoniously with others. Joann's latest training, in Internal Family Systems, has improved her skills and awareness level. By assessing Self-Energy, she assists individuals and family members successfully work with their activated and protective parts by looking at the core limited beliefs and burdens that they hold.

Joann specifically focuses on making individuals aware of the patterns that are shaped and unconsciously imprinted during their earliest years in their families and society-at-large for their protection and survival. She helps them to understand how these survival "coping mechanisms" hide the overwhelming emotions and/or traumatic events that keep showing up as triggers throughout their lives.

Joann has found that these patterns are instrumental in understanding the dynamics that take place within a family, especially an adopted family, as these children's' imprints began with the birthparents' in utero. Through presence, curiosity, acceptance and compassion, she continually strives to help these families understand their internal system and achieve positive growth.

Joann has also completed her training with CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocacy Program and is presently completing a training for Couples with The Couples Institute. Joann has also given workshops on Ambiguous Loss with her partner, Sally Ankerfelt.

Professional Development and Education

  • B.A. in Social Studies, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
  • JD in Law, John Marshall Law school, Chicago, IL
  • Master in Library & Information Science, Rosary College, Oak Park, IL
  • Certified Performance/Transformational Coach, Resource Realizations
  • Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming
  • Certified in Sacred Contracts with Carolyn Myss Educational Institute
  • Certified Prepare/Enrich Marital and Pre-marital Inventory Administrator and Counselor

Joann DiStefano Illinois 312-576-5755

Testimonials About Joann

I find working with Joann to be one of the most important steps I am taking preparing to adopt a child. She helps me look at issues from new perspectives, think about situations that I would not have come up with, and help find solutions to those situations. Joann's insight is invaluable, as she shares her experiences and provides practical advice to help ensure I am prepared for parenthood. I know my coach will be there to help me every step of the way, and feeling that support is very comforting as I prepare for adoption.   P.S.

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GIFT, Growing Intentional Families Together, adoption