"Meditation" meditations. These are programs that are designed to essentially help you learn how to meditate. Traditionally, meditation is not done to any sort of guide track -- one learns by receiving instructions and then going for it, so to speak. But meditation is not an easy thing to do, and while some forms of meditation are best done solo, some lend themselves to being... guided. Heart meditation -- meditation focused in the spiritual heart -- is an example of a technique that does lend itself to a guided meditation program.
Simple Relaxation. The goal of these programs is to simply get you to relax, a skill most of us don't have these days. While it may not be a very ambitious goal, it's a very helpful and necessary one if you need it. These programs may have you do simple "count down" techniques, body relaxations from head to foot, take a floaty journey on a cloud or a hot air balloon, or relax in a tropical setting. Such programs are often the basis for more involved meditations for the purpose of healing or self improvement. They begin with a relaxation technique, and then go on to more serious work.
Self Improvement/Affirmation. Self improvement guided meditations or guided imagery programs focus on helping the listener acquire positive traits, for example courage, or self confidence. These programs often use affirmations (for example, "I believe in myself and am more confident every day") in an attempt to reprogram the subconscious. Note that some feel that without getting to core issues that may block more positive expression, repeated affirmations are of little use. In general, the context within affirmations are used makes all the difference.
Personal Growth/Envisioning. Another technique often employed is to have the listener imagine themselves doing something very well, or exhibiting the desired character trait. The theory here is that if a person can see themselves doing or being a certain way, it will be easier to embody that behavior. This fits in with the "Act as if" theory of psychology.
Spiritual Journeys. Guided imagery and guided meditation can be especially helpful in accessing the spiritual side of our consciousness. Sometimes that means connecting with our own soul or "higher self", and sometimes it means developing an inner relationship with spiritual or religious figures. The imagination can be a terrific bridge between our conscious mind and our higher consciousness, and guided meditation programs are especially helpful in engaging our imagination.
Max Highstein is the author of a best selling series of guided meditation programs and courses. You can listen to samples and purchase downloads and CDs at The Healing Waterfall, a great web site for learning more about guided meditation http://www.guidedimagerydownloads.com