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 of experience in the family area.

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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 interview children at the Guardianship Assistance Desk in Cook County, IL.

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 worked in NLP, she attained training in archetypal work with Carolyn Myss in 2009. Through this work and her earlier studies, Joann was able to assist individuals in achieving balance and resiliency. Joann's latest completed training, in Internal Family Systems, has improved her skills and awareness level in this area. By working with a client’s individual parts and by addressing their core limited beliefs and burdens, Joann is now able to help a client attain positive and healing self-energy.

Joann specifically focuses on an individual’s patterns/parts that were shaped and unconsciously imprinted during the earliest years of life for the person’s self-worth, protection and survival. She helps one understand how these "coping mechanisms" work as triggers to hide overwhelming emotional and/or traumatic events that have taken place within their life.

Joann has found that these patterns/parts 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 families and individuals understand their internal system and achieve healthy growth.

Joann has also completed her training with CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocacy Program and a training with The Couples Institute. Joann has also taken Diane Poole Heller’s Mastermind Therapy Circle on Grief & Loss, and with her partner, Sally Ankerfelt, has given workshops on Ambiguous Loss. Her latest endeavor is working towards an understanding of the Nervous System and how the Polyvagal Theory works to effectively track its autonomic response patterns.

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 Premarital Inventory Administrator and Counselor, including the Adoption Assessment
  • Certificate of Training in Internal Family Systems
  • Certificate of Training in The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy

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.

"Joann's guidance and insights have been invaluable to me in moving through old unconscious belief systems; and taking on life issues and obstacles as they come up. Though I didn't go to her for parenting advice in the beginning, I now count on her insights into approaching my kids, doing parenting, and constructing new paradigms for understanding and being with my children. My children are adopted and Joann knows adoption issues inside and out, though her parenting coaching would reach me and my children whether biological or adopted. Through Joann's coaching, I have created greater meaning and purpose in my parenting, my relationships, and my work. "  --Monique T.

“Working with Joann has been a very positive influence in absolutely every area of my life. She helps me to understand things in ways I could not have on my own. I’ve found a beautiful calmness in my life and she helps bring me back there through her endless care, consistent support and amazing wisdom. I see the beauty of my young son growing in ways I never had imagined. She helps me to the simple, happy, unbelievable love in my life that I somehow couldn't find. I’m thankful Joann has come into my life. “ -- Kathleen W.

“We cannot thank you enough for your support, guidance and life tools. We feel so blessed to have found you and for our work together. We all came a long way.”  -- The W Family

GIFT, Growing Intentional Families Together, adoption